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How to Grow Monthly Giving with Responsive Fundraising

Similar to why we love our recurring subscriptions, donors value the flexibility and convenience that come with monthly giving. These donors typically feel a stronger connection with the organizations they support, which is why they choose to contribute so frequently.

For nonprofit organizations, monthly donations offer a multitude of benefits.

  • First, it gives organizations a sense of security, knowing that a predictable stream of revenue is coming in every month.
  • Second, the collective impact of your community of monthly donors enables your organization to make more progress toward your mission.
  • Lastly, the nature of monthly giving allows you to build stronger relationships with donors, which also leads to higher donor retention.

With a shrinking donor pool and generosity beginning to wane, nonprofits hope to grow their monthly giving program to offset the unpredictability of giving. Recent data from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows a drop in donor participation, driven by low donor acquisition and retention rates. However, there’s a silver lining: While we saw a 13.7% drop in the amount one-time donors gave in Q1 of 2023, there was a slight bump in recurring donors who gave seven or more donations.

This indicates the growing recurring donor loyalty and commitment toward the causes they deeply care about. If your donor file is filled with one-off donations, why not commit more resources to engaging the segment of donors who are primed to become recurring givers?

The Long-Term Value of Monthly Giving

When a donor decides to upgrade their giving, it often stems from a deep commitment to an organization that aligns with their values. This act of generosity is attributed to your team’s responsive fundraising efforts in listening to donor signals, forging genuine connections, and suggesting pertinent follow-up actions.

Responsive Fundraising Framework

Those who choose to contribute monthly gifts often feel a stronger sense of connection and dedication, as they become a part of a community of like-minded individuals who share the same passion for your cause. This gives your organization the opportunity to continue building trust and loyalty by communicating and demonstrating the real impact of their support.

The moment a donor who previously gave a one-time donation becomes a monthly supporter is when that donor’s lifetime value significantly goes up.

Imagine someone previously gave a $100 gift. Thanks to your efforts to keep them engaged as a recurring supporter, they choose to switch from making sporadic $100 gifts to committing to a monthly contribution of $25. This takes their annual lifetime value from $100 to $300—a 200% increase in LTV.

Responsive Fundraising Increases Monthly Donor Retention

Responsive fundraising is about keeping your donors happy, engaged, and retained in the long run. By listening to the needs and preferences of your donors, you’re meeting their expectations and strengthening relationships that are poised to prosper.

The mix of these relational elements creates an environment of trust and inspires a commitment to being a part of the positive change your organization is making.

The Role of Your Nonprofit CRM

Your nonprofit CRM plays a vital part in the responsive fundraising strategies you build. With the insights gleaned from your donor management platform, you can make well-informed decisions to attract new donors to join your circle of monthly supporters.

By simplifying administrative tasks like reporting and knowledge-sharing, organizations like Freedom Story have saved countless hours, which they can now dedicate to the care and cultivation of their monthly donor base.

“We have seen a larger donor retention and we have seen more conversions to monthly donors,” Rachel Goble, Executive Director of Freedom Story.

How to Take a Responsive Approach to Monthly Giving

Donors who give monthly gifts deserve more than just a standard once-a-month acknowledgment email. These dedicated supporters have shown a deep commitment to your mission and seek a more meaningful connection, beyond being treated as mere transactions.

Take a look at your monthly donor journey: Is it a linear roadmap? Maybe it looks something like this:

  1. Organization receives a one-time gifts.
  2. Organization sends a gift acknowledgement letter.
  3. Organization sends a personal thank-you email.
  4. Organization sends a monthly giving appeal.
  5. Donor signs up to become a monthly donor.
  6. Organization sends a thank-you email each month following receipt of the recurring donation.

The biggest deterrent from someone upgrading their giving is if they’re even a right fit for the monthly ask in the first place. Your monthly donor journey should be dynamic and adjust based on donor signals.

These signals are donor interactions with your organization that offer you insights into their interests, preferences, and motivations for giving. You should only be sending monthly giving appeals to those who have expressed interest in it in the first place. This is where good listening practices come into play.

Responsive donor management systems like Virtuous offer intuitive marketing tools to listen and track donor behavior across multiple engagement channels—such as website, email, social, and SMS—so your team is better equipped to make more relevant giving suggestions.

The integration and optimization across different tools empower nonprofits to make sure each step is guided by donor signals, enhancing the overall supporter experience.

For Chicanos Por La Causa, Virtuous’ responsive capabilities have enabled the one-person team to deepen engagement with current donors and give them a voice within the mission.

“Because we can be responsive with Virtuous, donors feel like there’s transparency, there’s an individual that they know at the organization. People feel like they have someone they can reach out to,” says Veronica Carrillo, Donor Relations Manager at Chicanos Por La Causa.

Personalize Monthly Giving Donor Journeys

Donor journeys are sequences of interactions that nurture donors from their initial contact to deeper engagement opportunities within your organization, such as taking advantage of the monthly giving option. This strategic process fosters a more profound connection between donors and your mission through a purpose-driven donor journey that adapts to their needs and wants over time.

To personalize these donor journeys to fit the desires of your individual donors, it’s important to use donor mapping, as this tactical framework allows you to visually map out each stage of the journey. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to mapping your monthly donor journey:

  • Detail your monthly donor persona: Identify the characteristics and behavioral tendencies of this persona, and leverage the insights in your nonprofit CRM.
  • Decide on your starting point: At which point will your donor embark on their journey with you? Confer with your team, and decide whether your donor journey will begin when you receive their first donation or at an earlier point.
  • Choose your engagement points and messages: Plan out how many touchpoints your donor will receive over, and spend time crafting compelling messaging. As you’re personalizing your appeal letters, don’t forget to include relevant monthly gift amounts. 
  • Build in delays between each touchpoint: How many days will you wait between each communication?
  • Activate your donors: Put your map into action, and start guiding your donors on their monthly giving journey.

Performing a donor mapping exercise allows you to create a holistic approach to nurturing donors to become monthly giving supporters. Once you’ve finalized the details of your donor journey, this is when you will set up marketing automation workflows. By employing these automated journey workflows, your team can rest easy knowing your prospective monthly donors will receive timely and personalized communications based on their donor signals.

The Ease of the Donor Journey Builder

Using Virtuous’ donor journey builder, your team can easily chart the path of their monthly donors. What differentiates our platform is that donor journeys are responsive in nature. We don’t rely on a generic mass communication schedule. Instead, our workflows are triggered by donor signals, ensuring that each communication your monthly donor receives is purposefully tailored to their previous actions.

Nonprofits like Zoweh selected Virtuous to streamline their fundraising campaigns and fortify their monthly giving program at scale. In fact, with the marketing automation capabilities provided by Virtuous, Zoweh has witnessed a 5% to 10% growth in recurring donors.

“The automation workflows in Virtuous Marketing have been spectacular. We didn’t have anything like that before we moved into Virtuous,” says Christopher Matthews, Digital Director of Zoweh. “It’s helped us get all of our systems and processes to the point where they’re working for us and not against us. That has saved us so much time.”

Broaden Supporter Engagement Opportunities

Each monthly donor journey can look different because everyone has their own preferences for how they choose to show their support. While some prospects might convert through simple appeals, there are others who might need extra nurturing before they commit to supporting your organization on a monthly basis.

Within your monthly donor journey, it’s important to offer other engagement opportunities other than direct monetary contributions, such as:

  • Event participation: Let your prospective donors see the magic of your community by inviting them to upcoming events. This could be a simple virtual educational webinar or an all-out 5K or gala.
  • Volunteer options: Get your community involved in the good work of your organization. Provide opportunities for those interested to donate their time for mission-critical efforts like writing thank-you notes, helping out at upcoming events, or aiding in day-to-day administrative support.
  • Advocacy: Create a space where supporters can show off their passion for your mission. Especially if it’s a cause that resonates deeply and personally with them, supporters would be more than happy to start their own fundraisers to raise funds on behalf of your organization.
  • In-kind donations: Give dedicated donors an option to donate goods or services that the organization needs, such as clothing, food, medical supplies, or even professional services.
  • Social sharing: Encourage potential donors to share your organization’s content on their social media platforms to increase visibility and reach a broader audience.
  • Feedback recruitment: Engage donors by listening to their opinions and feedback on your organization’s work and direction, making them feel valued and heard.

These additional touchpoints provide a well-rounded donor experience, demonstrating that their support goes beyond just financial transactions. The greater the level of engagement a supporter has with your organization, the more likely they are to consider making regular contributions in the future.

Build in Perks to Your Monthly Giving Program

As you strive to cultivate a stronger base of donors who give monthly contributions, it’s important to articulate why you need their support in the first place. What is it that their contributions are making possible? How will this affect the lives of those whom you serve? Clearly communicating this need helps create a sense of purpose for your donor and an urgency to join your community of supporters.

Take out a page of A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay’s book. With a mission to provide a safe, loving, and nurturing home for foster children, the organization highlights giving tiers and the direct impact of each amount, empowering monthly donors to choose how their donation will be spent.

Screenshot of A Kid's Place Donation Page

Leveraging steps one and two of The Responsive Fundraising Framework, review past donor feedback to find what information donors want to know more about, and suggest opportunities on how they can support those interest areas.

It’s a good idea to find ways to differentiate yourself from others in the sector by highlighting your value proposition. What is your organization doing that no one else is? Make sure to offer exclusive insights into the organization’s work, showcasing the behind-the-scenes efforts and success stories that your monthly donors’ contributions make possible.

To sweeten up the pot, consider including special perks like monthly donor recognition, access to exclusive content, and invitations to donor-only events.

Foster Inclusivity Within Your Monthly Giving Community

To create a sense of community and exclusivity, give your monthly giving program a name. A well-crafted name can evoke a sense of belonging and pride among your monthly donors, making them feel like an integral part of a special community.

For example, Rainforest Foundation US has named their monthly donation program “Treehouse” to reflect a community of individuals united by their shared goal to safeguard the future of our planet through the protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights and land tenure.

Another way you can foster a strong community environment is by creating channels for your monthly donors to engage with one another and with your organization. Think of social media groups or monthly town halls. In these inclusive spaces, donors can share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas.

Promote honesty and transparency by encouraging donors to ask hard questions and provide constructive feedback. Beyond community-building, this also gives your monthly donors a voice in the organization’s direction.

Don’t forget to organize annual experiences and events exclusively for your monthly donors. These events can be in-person gatherings, webinars, virtual meet-ups, or even special access to your organization’s projects or activities.

The goal is to provide opportunities for donors to connect on a deeper level, share their passion for the cause, and witness the impact of their contributions firsthand. These experiences not only strengthen their commitment but also create lasting bonds within the community of monthly supporters.

Grow Your Monthly Giving File With Responsive Fundraising

Monthly donors bring immeasurable value to your organization over one-time donors. They provide a foundation for cultivating strong donor relationships and boosting donor retention rates. Adopting a responsive approach is the key to increasing support and expanding your monthly giving program.

To explore the potential of responsive fundraising and how it can help grow your monthly donor base, connect with one of our team members today.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Schedule a discovery call with us, where we can show you around, answer your questions, and help you see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

If you know another nonprofit pro who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via Email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

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