Recurring Giving for Nonprofits

First, let’s talk about why nonprofits need a Recurring Giving Program.
Does your organization struggle with a dwindling number of donors, year-over-year? For most, the answer to that question is , “YES”.  Countless studies, including the 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report,  have shown that a first time donor is much more likely to never donate to your organization again. To the tune of over 50%.
That means that your pool of donors is likely to go from, let’s say, 1,000 donors to only about 500 the following year. How are you going to find 500 donors to just break even with last year? How could you event try to increase year-over-year?
Recurring (or Monthly) Donors can offer your organization the financial stability it needs to keep income levels from swaying wildly throughout the year. Even better, they tend to give more money than one-time donors.  Statistics show that a recurring donor will prove to be about 4x more valuable!

Can your website close the deal?

If your answer is an emphatic yes, good for you! You’re part of a growing contingent of nonprofit organizations who have come to the realization that putting time, energy and money into an effective and attractive website is an investment in not only converting donors, but in achieving a range of broader organizational goals.

If your answer is no, or you’re not sure, it might be time for a brand and/or website overhaul, or at the very least an audit. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider how to get started.

Appearances Matter — A Lot

The design of your website is of critical importance to your fundraising and overall success. On one level, strong design is a matter of function: does your website make it easy and intuitive for various visitors to accomplish what they’re looking to accomplish — whether that be to learn more about you, volunteer, apply for a job, or donate?

On another level, carefully considered design and copy — and a consistent overall brand – says a lot about you as an organization. If your website looks and feels haphazard, amateurish, or out of date, what does that suggest about your organization as a whole? A polished and professional website implies a polished and professional organization — one that can be trusted to manage a donor’s funds responsibly.

How To Increase Your Online Giving

If you’re an organization that relies on fundraising, your donation page is probably one of the most important sections of your website. But what makes a good donation page? It might not be what you think. By following basic best practices like the ones listed below.

Make it as easy as possible for them to (donate) by cutting out anything that may distract your donor from giving.

    • Less is more. Donation pages should be light on copy, images and links to click away. Many organizations assume that this page needs to “convince” donors to give, but in reality most people who land on this page have already made the decision to donate. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so by cutting out anything that may distract your donor from giving. If you have other means of donating (e.g., by cheque or legacy giving), include a means of viewing that option, but not in a way that will deter donors from giving online.

We recommend three to five options; more than five has been shown to result in drop-offs at this step.

    • Multiple choice. Again, the point of your donation page is to make it easy to donate. Pre-populated donation amounts allow donors to easily choose an option. We recommend three to five options; more than five has been shown to result in drop-offs at this step. Work with your development department to determine what your most common online donation amounts are. You can use those as your pre-populated amounts, or increase them by five to ten dollars to encourage a small increase in your average online donation amount. Couple these pre-populated options with a field where the donor can easily enter a custom amount.
    • Allow monthly giving — but don’t force it. Provide donors with the option to give monthly, but don’t select this option by default. Anecdotally, donors we’ve spoken to say sites that automatically select the monthly giving option make them feel manipulated or tricked into ongoing donations. Make the option available, and easy, but let your donors choose it willingly.
    • Seamless is better. If you can keep your donation form embedded within your website, do it. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and the donor will need to open an external form or page to complete their donation, but doing so makes for a less-than-seamless donation experience.
    • Show you are legit. Many donors, particularly baby boomers who are donating online, are reassured by seeing charity accreditations on your donation page. Anecdotally, donors have told us that they don’t necessarily know what these accreditations mean, but seeing them makes them feel more confident that their donation is going to be used responsibly.

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