• RC Clark

Your Recurring Giving Program, Part 2: How to Proactively Plan and Prepare

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Creating a powerful recurring giving program starts with setting goals, analyzing your donors, and planning a campaign to promote your program.

In part one of this series, we looked at reasons why you need a recurring giving program.

We learned that it will give your nonprofit a predictable stream of monthly income, more revenue over time, and that it's cheaper to retain donors than to find new ones.

If you want to go back to that part, click here.

Right now let's jump into what we need to consider to create a recurring giving program that's proactive and comprehensive.

Step 1: Set Goals

A plan without goals is like running up and down the field without scoring.

Sure, you're moving the ball, but who's keeping score? How will you know when you've accomplished what you set out to do?

Plus, when you go to achieve a goal, you can push your organization to do more, rather than stay the middle road.

How do you want to use your recurring revenue?

Since monthly donations give us consistent cash flow, we need to think about what we want to fund and how much we need each month to fund it.

For example, if you want to fund a program that costs $2000 month, how many donors do you need and how much do they need to give per month to do that?

It depends on your organization, but it could be achieved a number of different ways.

  • 10 donors giving $200 per month

  • 40 donors giving $100 per month

  • 200 donors giving $10 per month

Your donor will decide how much they want to give, but be sure to offer suggested giving levels on your form. You can lead them by linking their donation to the amount of impact that it will have.

For example, $100 per month will feed a family every day.

Track your progress over time.

Use your numbers to calculate metrics that will track your progress over time.

  • Number of donors multiplied by the amount they give each month gives you your monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

  • Churn is the monthly income you lose when people cancel their monthly gift.

  • Number of monthly donors is the total number of supporters who make a monthly gift.

Setting a goal based on funding a program rather than "more recurring givers" will give you something tangible you can get excited about funding.

Once you figure out what you want to fund, use metrics like MRR and Number of monthly donors to see if you're gaining progress or need to do more.

Step 2: Figure Out Who Your Donors Are

Our donors are diverse. They have different reasons and methods for giving.

When we can meet donors where they're at, we'll have a much better chance of getting them excited to give.

Look at the Data

There's a rule called the Pareto Principle that says 80% of your effects will come from 20% of your causes.

This principle applies to everything including fundraising and we need to consider it when deciding how we want to talk to our donors when presenting our recurring giving program.

If 80% of your donations come from 20% of your donors, it means that a few donors are giving a lot, and most are giving a little.

For example, your average gift size may be $100, although you have several donors who give over $300 per year.

With these figures in mind, you could create two different donation forms, one that will have larger giving amounts than the other.

But it's not just the money you need to be looking at.

There are several other factors to consider when talking to a donor like:

  • Donor personas

  • Past gift sizes

  • How they give (in-person, online)

  • Donor surveys

You can also check to see whether repeat donors favor any particular program and your organization can emphasize this work in the appeal.

Step 3: Plan Your Campaign

Every plan needs a timeline. Every plan needs to anticipate what will happen and what your response will be.

Let's start with a couple questions that will help us plan our campaign:

Question #1: What materials do you send to donors and when?

This is best answered by making a calendar.

Your timeline can include email appeals, blog posts, microsite launches, and even a soft launch.

It's up to you when you want to do what.

The most important thing is that you get all of your materials ready before-hand and then release them according to a plan that builds excitement and gives your donors multiple opportunities to enter in.

Question #2: How can we leverage our existing supporters?

A recurring giving program isn't something you do from scratch.As with all new ventures, you should already have a network that's willing to support you from the get-go.

This network is your existing donors. They're the ones that are already giving, attending events, and spreading the word about your organization.

They will help you get the ball rolling in your recurring program.

To leverage their support, run a soft launch.

A soft launch is when you reach out to your most committed supporters to ask them to be the first to contribute to a campaign.

Some of the ways you can ask them to help are:

  • Spread the word by posting to their social media

  • Send a quote explaining why they give monthly (to be used in promotions and appeals).

  • Increase their monthly gift

You can use this evidence from supporters to show new donors and other existing givers that your program is worthwhile.

The already given social proof will do wonders to convert one-timers into recurring supporters during the early stages of your program.


Creating your recurring giving program comes down to planning, asking questions, and leveraging resources.

After you've looked at your data and reached out to donors, you can announce and promote your program.

In the next part of this series, we'll discuss HOW to promote it using email, social media, and other outlets so that you can finally bring a consistent income and stellar donor relationships to your nonprofit.

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