Recurring Donor Acquisition and Cultivation

In the last installment of our series we highlighted a few of the necessary steps involved in initiating a recurring gift program. In this installment, we’ll consider strategies to gain recurring gift donors. What are the major obstacles to recruiting recurring donors and how can your organization overcome them? Why do some organizations succeed at converting occasional donors to recurring givers, while others struggle?

It’s clear that the key to managing a successful recurring gift program is maintaining effective communication between organizations and donors. While this may seem obvious, many organizations fail to take full advantage of the existing lines of communication at their disposal. A study revealed that more than one-third of organizations polled failed to send a follow up email to new subscribers within thirty days of enrollment in an email campaign.1 Over half of the organizations neglected to make an appeal in the first ninety days of enrollment. These figures represent failures by organizations to capitalize on opportunities, and underscore the importance of engaging supporters at all levels of involvement. Communication is an organization’s best tool to combat donor hesitancy or uncertainty, and your team needs to use every chance available to connect. Make an internal assessment of your communication habits to identify areas needing improvement, then set attainable goals for your staff.

Diagnosing Donor Friction

Having identified communication breakdowns, determine what points of friction – or sources of resistance - exist between your target donors and online giving destinations. Consider the following:

  • Can donors easily subscribe to your newsletters?
  • Can they quickly identify how and where to give?
  • Are the recurring giving options prominently featured, and are their benefits clearly stated?
  • How many clicks does it take to reach the recurring giving sign up form from your homepage or newsletter?

Try to inhabit the mind of your ideal donor. Do your website and mobile apps facilitate an effortless transition between the initial desire to support your cause and registering for recurring giving? If not, work to reduce the number of steps needed to register, or reposition links so that they are more easily accessed.

Acknowledgement and Follow-Up

Once you have removed any obstacles that might deter a potential donor from giving, implement a policy ensuring that each recurring gift donor receives a personalized acknowledgement. Automated replies, while essential, are expected and should be followed up by an email of appreciation that reiterates the many benefits of recurring giving and confers special gratitude upon the donor. Organizations should make their recurring gift donors feel a part of an elite group of contributors. In the next installment of our series on recurring giving, we’ll consider methods of retaining recurring gift donors and delve more deeply into overcoming long-term obstacles to recurring gift programs.

Read More - Part 3 (Recurring Donor Methodology)
Previous - Part 1 (Recurring Gift Programs 101)