5 ways to approach recurring donors

Regular donors are an important part of a nonprofit team.
Date Published
09/02/2015

When approaching recurring donors during fundraising, nonprofit organizations must have personal strategies in mind. Donors are not cash machines or silent partners, they are human beings who can develop a real relationship with your organization.

When asking for recurring donations, you want to recognize that relationship and show how important the donor is to your goals. Here are fives ways to respectfully ask for continued support from individuals who have helped in the past:

1. Regular giving should be simple
The first thing you can do to respect your donors is make fundraising simple. If you want recurring donations, you shouldn’t force your contributors to jump through hoops to get there.

Monthly gifts should be a visible option as soon as a person makes contact with your organization. Newsletters, public event and websites should have information about recurring gift policies. Volunteers and online tools must offer simple procedures to sign up for regular donations.

If your nonprofit has an online donation page, there should be a box to check for recurring donations and a reasonable suggested amount. Fundraising software is great for collecting Internet pledges and tracking the success of website features. If a donation page fails to bring in recurring donations, the wording or suggested amount may have to change. 

2. Recognize repeated gifts
You want people who continuously contribute money to your cause to see themselves as regular supporters. A recent University of Pennsylvania study showed reminding donors of previous contributions increased the chances of them donating again.

People often respond to the label given to them. When the public assigns them a negative title, they work to overcome it. When you remind  people of their positive moniker, they are quick to try and live up to expectations.

When communicating with recurring donors, you should address them with the title they’ve earned. You can call them a valued supporter or a friend to the cause. You should also publicly thank constant contributors. Hearing their names in live events or newsletters makes donors feel special and encourages other people to take part.

3. Ask for their input
A relationship should be a two-way street. It’s not just about communicating your needs and thanks to donors, it’s the ability to listen to regular contributors when they have thoughts and opinions

The Center for Association Leadership said fundraisers sometimes make the mistake of talking too much. Volunteers or organization heads are so focused on getting out all of the details and information about a particular fundraising event, they don’t take the time to ask the donor what he or she expects to receive from participation.

Allowing donors to voice their questions and concerns provides valuable insight into the type of people who contribute regularly to your cause. You can learn new approaches for future fundraisers. They might even tell a story that would make a great addition to your nonprofit’s promotional materials.

4. Turn success data into stories
If people have contributed to your cause in the past, you should show them what their money helped accomplish. Facts and figures might be a little dry, though; you want to turn the effects of their contribution into a story.

When approaching a repeat donor during fundraisers, each volunteer should have access to information about the relationship. Nonprofit software should detail how much a person has given in the past and what the funds were put toward. A good program should help you turn the data into graphs or other visual aids. If at all possible, you should find specific examples of individuals or singular events that met their goals because of donor input.

5. Get creative!
Finally, every nonprofit is different, so find your own unique way of asking for regular donations.

The Liz Logelin Foundation, an organization that supports young families that lose parents, asks for $7 on 7. Contributors can pledge $7 dollars on the seventh of each month. This type of ask is very memorable.

Other nonprofits might offer prizes or special rewards for regular donors. Your particular cause may provide them with other incentives, like a chance to meet the people they help or display their name in a public place. Gratitude rewards can be part of an online monthly application form. Whatever you can do to make consistent contributors feel special is always a best practice.

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