“Whether you’re just hopping on the recurring giving train or your program has been cruising down the tracks for some time, an important reminder about recurring giving is that there are many different ways to ask your donors to join you on this journey.”
Back in 2018, we wrote a blog post about the recurring giving renaissance and how to get your own program started. Rereading that post now, we sound absolutely giddy about both the donor engagement possibilities and the revenue opportunities that building a recurring program offers. The delightful (and not surprising!) thing is that four years on, we’re still just as excited about recurring giving.
According to Classy’s 2021 State of Modern Philanthropy report, recurring giving continues to be a highly valuable strategy. Classy shares that recurring donors are over five times more valuable than one-time donors. Also consider that recurring donors are proving themselves to be more generous over time. In 2020, the median recurring gift size was $20. In 2021, it bumped up to $23. Likewise, in 2020, the average recurring gift size was $31. In 2021, it jumped to $42. That is HUGE growth!
Whether you’re just hopping on the recurring giving train or your program has been cruising down the tracks for some time, an important reminder about recurring giving is that there are many different ways to ask your donors to join you on this journey.
Here, Thread is excited to share three ideas we love for when and how to ask for recurring gifts.
#1: Experiment with making recurring giving the default option on your donation page
The choice to make a one-time or a recurring gift is a baseline essential on your donation checkout page. But we want you to look again at your donation page and look at what the default option is: is it one-time or recurring? If recurring giving isn’t your default option, run an experiment and make it so!
For one, two, or three months, try switching your default gift frequency option to recurring and see if that gentle nudge makes a difference. You could be happily surprised by the results!
#2: Ask new one-time donors to convert to recurring giving at the end of a welcome series
We encourage all our partners to adopt the best practice of sending an automated email welcome series (5 – 7 communications over a 7-to-21-day timeline from the gift date) to their new donors. It’s a fabulous way to reassure new donors that their financial partnership is important and to further educate them on your mission, programs, and impact.
One way to end a welcome series is to invite that one-time donor to become a recurring donor. And to perhaps pre-empt your reaction, we promise that asking three weeks after the first gift is *not* too soon to ask again! Check out this amazing work from Analytical Ones as corroboration.
Asking a new one-time donor to become a recurring donor at the end of a welcome series is to leverage their attention and excitement into a more lasting, substantial relationship for you both. You’re helping to entrench a pattern of giving.
As one more proof from pudding: Classy reports that, “Of one-time donors who start a recurring gift subscription, 23% go on to make an additional one-time gift on top of their regular donation.” In the real world, this fact translates to a lot of gift activity from just one donor! That donor made a one-time gift, then started a recurring giving plan, and then made yet another one-time gift on top of that!
But the only way to receive (and celebrate!) so much gift activity is to ask for it.
#3: Execute an annual recurring giving acquisition appeal
If you didn’t convert a one-time donor to recurring status via your donation page or your welcome series, you can still invite that donor through a targeted annual recurring giving acquisition appeal.
There are a few quick and dirty tactics that make for an effective acquisition appeal.
First, it needs to be short and urgent: 2-3 weeks maximum. This is a sprint effort, not a marathon like your End-of-Year (EOY) fundraising campaign.
Second, the appeal needs to be highly targeted and segmented. You are not asking your full contact list. You are only asking donors below a certain threshold (say $250 in cumulative annual giving) who have given for one or more years with one or more gifts each year.
Third, your goal needs to be tightly bounded so that the ask is easy to say yes to. For example, your appeal might only be seeking 10 new recurring givers at $10/month. When offered this ask, donors can immediately see how they would be significant in achieving the goal. The thought becomes, “I can be one of ten, no problem.”
If you would like help starting a recurring giving program, or you’d like some ideas for how to elevate your existing program’s performance, check out our YouTube channel! We’re devoting the month of March to recurring giving, and we’ll have a whole play list dedicated to the ins-and-outs of a great recurring giving program.
We would also be thrilled to talk in-person! We obviously love recurring giving and would be honored to help your nonprofit benefit from this amazing opportunity. Contact us to get the conversation going.