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Marketing your recurring giving program: 4 tips

7 min read
Oct 13, 2022

For many nonprofits, their recurring giving program is one of their core fundraising pillars, bringing in reliable revenue each month. While recurring giving programs naturally rely on retaining donors, it’s also important to continue growing these programs by attracting new donors. 

Marketing a recurring giving program has a lot in common with marketing other fundraisers. For instance, you’ll likely connect with supporters through email, send messages that make emotional appeals, and do your best to build relationships with prospective donors. Of course, there are a few strategies that are unique or work particularly well when marketing specifically for a recurring giving program. 

In this guide, we’ll offer insights into four tips that will provide your nonprofit with a marketing strategy that will show off the best side of your recurring giving program to prospective donors. These tips include how to:

  1. Add a monthly giving track to your donation form. 
  2. Identify potential recurring donors. 
  3. Use online ads. 
  4. Create a membership program. 

When using these tips, your nonprofit’s current software solutions should help. If you find your technology, especially your CRM, falling short, that may be a sign that it’s time to change platforms. Make sure you have one of the best nonprofit CRMs backing up your efforts, a secure payment processor to keep recurring donors’ data safe, and marketing tools to ensure your messages come across as both professional and friendly. 

1. Add a monthly giving track to your donation form 

Signing up for a monthly giving program should be as easy as possible. Many nonprofits even strive to create one-click options that allow current donors to upgrade to recurring donors with a single click. Nonprofits should also make turning a one-time donation into a recurring gift easy on their donation page. 

Some nonprofits add checkboxes or pop-up messages to their donation form, asking donors to consider making a recurring gift. However, you can make monthly giving even more appealing by showing off your monthly giving track on your donation page. Rather than a simple checkbox, this will be a set of donation amounts supporters can use to set up a recurring donation in a single click. 

Here are a few best practices for creating a monthly giving track on your donation page: 

  • Provide suggested giving amounts. Many of your supporters likely aren’t sure how much is appropriate for a monthly donation. You can give them guidance and encourage them into becoming recurring donors by adding suggested donation amounts for your monthly giving program alongside suggested amounts for one-time gifts. The slightly lower amounts may encourage some donors to consider changing their intended one-time gift into a recurring donation.
  • Give examples of how donations will be used. You can show supporters their impact by adding examples of how their donations might be spent alongside suggested giving amounts. For example, a food bank might share how many families could be fed, or an environmental nonprofit could estimate how many trees they’ll plant. 
  • Provide self-service tools. Ensure your recurring donation management tools allow donors to adjust their giving amounts, contact information, and payment information. Self-service tools will save your donors and staff time and help keep more donors in your program as supporters can update their payment information if they move or get a new credit card. 

By setting up your donation page to better capture recurring donors, you can ensure your marketing ideas are being put to good use. You can even carry through some of your marketing appeals and relationship-building strategies to your donation page, such as explaining how they have now joined a group of valuable members at your nonprofit by making a recurring gift. 

2. Identify potential recurring donors 

Who is most likely to become a recurring donor for your nonprofit? Answering this question will help you focus your marketing efforts, ensuring that your campaigns have a higher return on investment. 

The easiest way to identify potential recurring donors is to look at your current recurring donors. Take note of what they have in common, whether it’s demographic information or the amount of time they donated to your nonprofit before becoming a monthly donor. 

Then, take a look at your current donor base, which can often be your best source for finding new recurring donors. These donors are already familiar with your nonprofit, and getting in touch with them will be relatively easy when compared to making brand new connections. When assessing these donors, CharityEngine’s guide to monthly giving recommends looking for these two characteristics:

 

 

  • Give on a semi-regular basis. Look for donors who contribute annually or on an irregular basis. These donors have shown they want to support your nonprofit over time, and giving them an option to do so automatically through your recurring giving program may encourage them to sign up. 
  • Give in significant amounts. Moderate donors who give substantial amounts have made an investment in your nonprofit and may be interested in breaking up their one irregular large donation into several smaller ones spaced out throughout the year. For example, a donor who gives $100 annually can likely be persuaded into instead giving $10 monthly, increasing their overall contribution to $120.  

Ensure your donor data is organized so you can clearly identify these prospective donors. This may require cleaning your donor database. Or, if your donor profiles and reporting tools aren’t as robust as you need them to be to find these donors, it may be time to upgrade to a new CRM.

3. Use online ads 

Marketing your program means creating new advertisements and finding ways to get them in front of new audiences. Today, many nonprofits are looking to expand their audiences online and your nonprofit can too with digital ads. 

If your nonprofit has never taken out a digital ad before, you may be unsure how to get started or even how you can make sure your marketing campaign will make up its return on investment. When running an online ad campaign, try using these best practices:

  • Target specific audiences. Who is your ad for? Given that each ad will be short and have limited space, it may be beneficial to create an ad campaign with multiple ads that each target slightly different audience segments. For example, a nonprofit may create a professional-looking ad for websites such as Facebook that tend to have an older audience, then create a fun, fast-paced video for TikTok, which has a younger audience. 
  • Use retargeting. Have you ever been interested in making a purchase but then closed the page and noticed ads for that same product appear on other websites? This is known as retargeting, and your nonprofit can use this strategy, too. Working with the right advertising software makes it easy to create ads that target donation page visitors and persuades them to come back and finish making their gift.
  • Monitor campaigns. Once an ad campaign is up and running, monitor it closely to see how many leads it's generating, who those leads are, and how many of those leads end up converting. The data you receive from your campaigns can help you determine if the campaign made up its return on investment and what you should adjust for your next campaign. 

In addition to paying websites for online ads, your nonprofit should also consider applying for a Google Ad Grant. Feathr’s guide to Google Ad Grants walks through the basic steps for ensuring your nonprofit is eligible, including being registered as a 501(c)(3), having an SSL certificate, and ensuring your website has valuable content and will appear relevant to Google. If these requirements apply to your nonprofit, consider applying for a Google Ad Grant to create free Google Ad campaigns. 

4. Create a membership program 

While many of your supporters are happy to become recurring donors just for the sake of helping your nonprofit, others may appreciate receiving a few additional perks. By creating a membership program for your recurring donors, you can provide more incentives to new donors and create opportunities to connect with them once they join. 

This marketing idea will require your nonprofit to develop benefits specifically for members of your recurring giving program, including:

  • Exclusive content. Nonprofits with membership programs often create members-only content. These can be exclusive articles, videos, presentations, or courses. Creating online courses can be an opportunity to forge stronger relationships with your supporters as your nonprofit will be providing them a skill in exchange for their membership. If you choose to create courses, you will likely need to invest in online registration software and a learning management system that will integrate with your CRM.
  • Free items. Giving little gifts to your members on a routine basis or for special occasions can make them feel appreciated or serve as reminders of your nonprofit. Order extra branded merchandise or check to see if you have items like t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, keychains, and other similar products already in stock that can be easily shipped through the mail. 
  • A membership directory. Membership programs can help form a community around your nonprofit which in turn can encourage your members to participate in more engagement opportunities. After all, if a member knows their friends are going to your next event, they’ll likely go, too. Let your members connect with one another by providing them with communication tools and a membership directory so they can see who else is a part of your recurring giving program. 

Additionally, you can make your membership program feel official by providing new members with a welcome email series. These messages will thank supporters for joining and introduce them to all the benefits of signing up for your program. 


Recurring donations provide nonprofits with reliable monthly revenue, and growing your program is an investment in your nonprofit’s future. You can take steps to build out your recurring giving program by making signing up easy, identifying the donors most likely to join, and showing off what your program has to offer with advertisements and incentives. Good luck!

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