4 Ways to Capture (& Maximize) Recurring Donations

October 3, 2023

When a donor signs up to contribute a recurring gift, they’re showing significant commitment and dedication to your cause. They’re likely one of your most highly engaged supporters, opting to provide a set donation amount on a prearranged schedule.

A look at recent fundraising studies indicates that an estimated 57% of all donors are currently enrolled in a recurring donation program. That’s up from 46% the previous year, meaning recurring gifts are on the rise. So, how can you maximize the number of donors supporting your cause on a regular basis?

Let’s walk through four key ways:

  1. Make recurring an easy upsell on donation forms.
  2. Inform donors of recurring gifts’ match eligibility.
  3. Focus on the impact of sustainable donor giving.
  4. Continuously thank supporters for recurring donations.

Recurring givers supply nonprofits like yours with a sustainable funding source that allows for a steadier income throughout the typical ebbs and flows of a year. And most often, they end up giving more in total than they would have contributed as a one-time donation⁠—even if each individual gift is smaller in size.

Read on to maximize this revenue stream for your mission.

1. Make recurring an easy upsell on donation forms.

The easier it is for donors to opt into a recurring gift, the more likely they are to do so (hint: this idea is generally applicable across all nonprofit fundraising efforts).

One of the simplest ways is by offering an “upsell” opportunity on your nonprofit’s giving pages.

Here’s how it works:

  1. A donor navigates to your donation page with the intention of contributing a one-time gift.
  2. As the donor completes the form, they are presented with the option to make it a monthly, quarterly, or annually recurring gift instead. Typically, all it involves is checking a box on the page or selecting a giving schedule.
  3. The donor enters their payment information as usual and clicks to submit their gift.
  4. After the predetermined amount of time (i.e., a week, month, quarter, or year), the following gift is automatically transferred from the donor to the nonprofit with no additional action required.
  5. Step #4 is repeated until the donor cancels their recurring gift!

You might be surprised to learn how many supporters will upgrade to a recurring gift when it’s as quick as clicking a button on a giving page. Just verify that your donation tools offer recurring functionality to ensure a smooth giving experience.

2. Inform donors of recurring gifts’ match eligibility.

Corporate matching gifts are a powerful workplace giving strategy that allows eligible donors to double the value of their contributions by requesting a match from their employers. However, a key myth surrounding the programs is that recurring gifts do not qualify for corporate matching. And in most cases, that’s simply not true!

While the process can vary from company to company, most will provide matches for the recurring gifts their staff makes. Yet the majority of match-eligible individuals remain unaware of their employers’ programs.

When you inform your donors of this opportunity, your team can benefit in a few key ways. These include:

  • Incentivizing recurring gifts by communicating about their potential to be matched.
  • Driving match funding from existing (but previously unclaimed) recurring gifts.

In both cases, your organization is ultimately able to increase matching gift revenue, thus providing additional funds for mission-related programming.

Just be sure to outline the request process for supporters, as this is where it can typically diverge from matching one-time gifts. It’s generally recommended that recurring givers batch their match requests for the most efficient solution. For example, a monthly donor would likely complete their employer’s submission form once⁠ a year⁠—for a total request equal to the sum of the twelve monthly gifts⁠—rather than complete twelve separate requests.

Still, be sure to check (or encourage donors to check) each company’s program guidelines. If a business requires matches to be submitted within six months of the initial donation, that individual would likely want to complete two or more batched annual requests.

3. Focus on the impact of sustainable donor giving.

One of the primary motivations for giving among donors is a desire to make a tangible impact on a nonprofit mission that they care about. In order to increase the number of individuals participating in your recurring giving program, be sure to communicate the increased impact they can make on your cause.

For example, let’s say your organization provides school supplies for students in need. If a supporter makes a one-time gift of $100, they purchase enough materials to pack ten backpacks. If they make their gift a monthly recurring one, they can fund the filling of over one hundred backpacks in a year. That’s over 10x the impact of the single gift!

Incorporating language like this in your fundraising appeals, giving pages, matching gift messaging, and more can go a long way toward inspiring donation upgrades for your organization.

4. Continuously thank supporters for recurring donations.

Acknowledging and thanking donors is of utmost importance for every gift you receive. But when it comes to recurring gifts, many organizations cease recognizing their supporters after just a few transactions—despite the donation being an ongoing one. That can leave your recurring givers feeling unappreciated and undervalued⁠—and increase their likelihood of lapsing their gift.

Instead, be sure to maintain communication with recurring givers on a continual basis. Follow up with donors each time, thanking them for their gifts and reiterating the ways that their dollars are furthering your mission. And if they ultimately request a matching gift to double their own gifts, be sure to show your appreciation for their above-and-beyond support in that realm as well!

Your organization likely has an existing base of recurring donors already. But are you doing all that you can to keep those supporters engaged so they don’t lapse? Do you have a strategy for securing new recurring gifts? Are you incorporating employee matching gifts into your recurring giver fundraising plan?

Implementing these practices can bring your nonprofit’s efforts to the next level⁠—allowing your team to make the most of each and every recurring gift opportunity that comes your way.

Good luck!