3 Tips To Running A Wildly Successful Recurring Donation Campaign

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

At CauseVox, we know that it takes more than a couple fundraising campaigns to meet the ever-growing financial needs of the average nonprofit or charity. Thankfully, there’s an effective way to bring in enough money to support your organization over the year and it doesn’t involve an annual campaign.

Think about integrating a recurring giving plan into your fundraising calendar.

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There are many reasons why recurring donation campaigns are growing in popularity among nonprofits and charities. So, let’s dive into some of the basics to see if this fundraising technique is right for you.

The Facts

Recurring Donation Campaigns Are Popular

According to the M+R 2015 Benchmark Study, the percentage of online donations made monthly increased by 32% between 2013 and 2014.

Recurring Donation Campaigns Are Lucrative For A Nonprofit

And it’s not just the popularity of recurring giving that appeals to us nonprofit professionals, it’s also because donors who participate in recurring giving campaigns give around 42% more over the course of a year. That’s really significant!

Recurring Donations Keep Your Donor Engaged

Donor retention is difficult, to say the least. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project of 2015 found that 19% of first-time nonprofit donors were retained compared to 63% of repeat donors, meaning that your chances of losing a donor decrease the more frequently they give.

With recurring donation campaigns, you’re increasing the donor’s engagement and ensuring they stay involved.

Recurring Donations Help Fundraisers

Your job as a nonprofit fundraiser is not easy. Not only do you have to bring in a steady (if not growing) stream of funds, you also always have to keep donor retention and engagement top of mind. But that’s why recurring giving is so great. These campaigns keep you connected to the donor on an ongoing basis, helping your retention efforts.

As you can see, the benefits of recurring donation campaigns are huge! So it’s time to get started. Here are 3 tips to help you run a wildly successful recurring donation campaign.

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1. Make It Personal By Showing Impact

People give to nonprofits and charities because they want to make a difference in the world. Yet, as a fundraiser, it’s so easy to lose sight of this. It’s sometimes impossible to draw your attention away from the numbers. Do we have enough funds to meet our budget? What is our donor churn this year? So we send out a quick thank you and move on to the next campaign.

But we have to move away from this, even with our returning donors. Instead of sending out a generic thank you to a recurring donor, it’s important that we continuously connect them with the impact of their gift.

Follow Watsi’s lead and connect your donor directly to the impact they’re making– not just once, but every time a gift is made. They use their monthly thank you email as an opportunity to highlight a client served by their organization.

You can show your recurring donors the impact of their gift by:

  • Including a video or photo of a client helped with their gift
  • Detailing exactly where their donation went (“This month’s gift of $35 is going to Haiti to help children in the XYZ orphanage.”)
  • Showing the donor’s monthly or yearly return on investment

Just because you have a recurring donor doesn’t mean they don’t need continual education, inspiration, and engagement.

2. Promote Often and Make It Easy

If possible, try to direct donors online to make their gift. Or, set them up with automatic deductions so they don’t have to mail in checks or phone in their gift every month. Nonprofits that rely on the donor to remember to send in the gift will wind up with higher rates of donor churn.

At CauseVox, we realize just how important it is for a donor’s giving experience to be easy and painless. That’s why we incorporated a recurring donation feature into our campaign sites.

embed donation page example
Release Your Voice uses CauseVox to create and manage their recurring donation page, which they then embed on their Squarespace website.

Your recurring donation campaign can be successful if you try to streamline the giving process.

3. Leverage Social Proof

Your donors aren’t necessarily giving to your organization to get something back in return. But there are ways that you can reward donors for choosing to become recurring donors that mirror a more traditional transaction.


  • Make it prestigious to be a recurring donor, by giving monthly donors a name, similar to a badge of honor. Also, showcase who also is part of the monthly giving program, as a way to build social proof around the campaign.
  • Leveraging a recurring donor’s gift by securing a match for the first month (or more). If you don’t know where to start, talk with some local business owners or major donors who may be willing to sponsor the drive.
  • Giving your donors a special thank you by creating a unique gift that highlights your impact. For example, Watsi created a book of photographs of their world around the world and mailed it to recurring donors
  • Personally calling those that choose to become recurring donors as a thank you. After a recent donation to Children of Vietnam, I received a phone call from the CEO within 24 hours. It made me feel like an integral part of the organization and made me want to continue giving.

Recurring giving is growing in popularity because it’s a win-win for both your nonprofit and the donor. Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to ramp up your recurring giving campaign, be sure to make the giving process easy, continuously relay impact, and reward your donor as often as possible.

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If you found this article helpful and want to develop and grow your recurring donation campaign, check out these additional resources:

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