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Nonprofit Strategies

Convert one-time gifts into recurring donations in 5 simple steps

Donors want to give you recurring donations. Yup, 94% of people prefer to give monthly, not annually. Learn how to retain your donors long-term in this guide.

Kylie Davis
April 12, 2023
November 17, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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If you want to ensure the health and survival of your nonprofit, you'll need to attract recurring supporters.  

But how do you transform a one-time gift into a recurring donation? By delivering an excellent supporter experience, of course! Think about it: For-profit companies attract recurring customers by delivering a product and/or service they love. The customer, in turn, returns to the place of business again and again, even becoming a brand advocate for the company.

The same can be said for nonprofits. By expressing gratitude and delivering an excellent supporter experience, you can increase your recurring donor base and ultimately hit your fundraising goal. 

How to increase recurring donations in 5 simple steps

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Ready to transform a one-time donation into a recurring gift? Below, we outline five steps every nonprofit organization should take to increase donor retention. 

1. Research your existing donor base 📈

Think about the last time you visited your favorite for-profit enterprise. Perhaps it's the coffee shop on the corner, where the barista knows your order by heart. Or maybe it's your favorite clothing retailer, where the owner says, "We just got the perfect new outfit for you," the second you walk through the door.

You support these businesses because the owners and staff know you, which makes you feel seen and heard. As a nonprofit organization, you can do the work to gain the same insight into your donor base, which will keep them coming back. To start, do the following: 

  • Create a donor database: All donor insights—from demographic data to past event attendance and donations—should be stored within a CRM system, and updated regularly. Fortunately, Givebutter comes with a free built-in CRM platform that seamlessly syncs with your fundraising platform. 
  • Segment your donor base: Tailor your marketing materials so they speak to the individual, rather than blanketing your entire donor base with one mass message. You can segment your list based on virtually anything, including location, interests, giving history, or demographics. 
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2. Get personal with your invitations 🎫

Fundraising events—whether held in-person or virtually—are a great way to get face-to-face time with new donors. Encourage all staff and your most loyal supporters to mingle with your donors, deepening your connection with your community.

Prior to your event, feel free to get personal with the invites.

While one-to-one messages might not be possible for reaching every potential supporter, you may be able to send custom messages to your most loyal givers.

Consider using the following tools within your outreach strategy:

  • Text message invites: SMS messages have a 98% open rate, nearly five times better than the open rate of email. Consider sending personal text invites to convert event attendees into recurring donors.
  • Launch a peer-to-peer campaign: Just as you might visit a new restaurant or cafe based on a friend's recommendation, potential donors might give their first donation based on a friend's encouragement. Launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to invite new donors to your next event. 
  • Send automatic reminders: Make it easy for potential donors to attend your event by sending automatic reminders via SMS or email. 

3. Express your gratitude 💌

When it comes to converting a one-time supporter into a monthly donor, a thank you goes a long way. In fact, research shows that supporters who receive a thank you message within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again.

Thank your donors early, and thank them often. Fortunately, the following tools can help you do just that: 

  • Automatic thank yous: With automated receipts, you can send supporters a custom thank you message immediately following an online donation. 
  • Thank you videos: With Givebutter's integration with ThankView, you can make personal thank you videos to each of your supporters. Simply create one video for your online fundraising campaign, then integrate with your CRM platform to customize the video with each supporter's name or donation amount. 
  • Thank you texts: Use outbound text blasts to send personal thank you messages to all supporters in hopes of converting them to your monthly giving program.

4. Throw a donor appreciation event 🎉

If you want to increase your donor retention rate, you might want to consider throwing an annual donor appreciation event. The purpose of these events is not to add another revenue stream for your organization. Instead, it's simply a time to mingle with your supporters, share the backstory of your mission, and introduce staff and volunteers to your monthly supporters.

Like any party, a donor appreciation event wouldn't be complete without food, entertainment, and drinks. Consider the following options: 

  • Rent a photo booth: Set up a photo booth to capture photos of staff, volunteers, and loyal supporters. (Bonus: This makes for great social media content later on.)
  • Turn up the volume: Hire a DJ, create a special playlist, or piece together a video montage to play in the background.
  • Set up lawn games: Cornhole, larger-than-life Jenga, or other games can help break the ice and make it easier for supporters to mingle.

5. Make it as easy as possible to give 💸

If you want to increase your recurring donations, you need to make it as easy as possible for your supporters to give.

Accept a wide variety of payment methods, and make it easy to accept recurring payments on your fundraising page. Lastly, you may want to embed a donation form directly on your website, so it can easily be found by first-time donors.

To diversify your recurring donation options, consider implementing the following features: 

  • Custom frequencies: Just because a supporter is interested in giving on a recurring basis doesn't mean they're committed to monthly payments. Allow donors to choose their frequency so they can give monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.
  • Migrate recurring donations: One of the main perks of fundraising with Givebutter is it's an all-in-one platform that includes a donation platform, email automation, and a CRM system. If you currently use another platform, you can easily migrate any recurring donations directly to Givebutter.
  • Accept all payment methods: Accept a number of in-person and online giving options, including Stripe, Venmo, PayPal, ACH, credit cards, and Google Pay. 

Switch to Givebutter to boost your recurring donations

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Recurring donations offer predictable revenue during off-peak times, which can help your organization accomplish your mission. These monthly gifts can help with payroll, fundraising events, and marketing initiatives for your organization. 

To help convert one-time donors into recurring supporters, you need to understand and express gratitude toward your donor base.

Log donor data in a CRM system, send personal event invitations, thank donors early, and consider launching an annual donor appreciation event. 

Lastly, you'll need a robust fundraising platform to handle recurring payments. Givebutter is the all-in-one fundraising platform that accepts every payment type, builds branded fundraising pages, offers email and SMS invites, launches peer-to-peer campaigns, and handles ticketed events. Plus, Givebutter comes with a built-in marketing automation and CRM system to help streamline your fundraising efforts. 

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Ready to see how Givebutter can help you convert a one-time gift into monthly donations? Launch your free account to start building your first campaign. 

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Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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