How to Turn 1-Time Donors into Recurring Donors

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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No matter the shape, size, or mission of your nonprofit, you probably want to recruit recurring donors. They represent a stream of consistent, reliable income, and building a recurring program is a great goal for any nonprofit! But most donors don’t start a recurring donation right away. Most start as one-time donors. The ability to turn those one-time donors into recurring donors is a valuable one, and we have ideas about where to start.

Want to build up a base of loyal recurring donors? Here’s where to start.

Invite 1-Time Donors to Stay Involved

If you’re working on donor-retention practices, you already know that you should communicate with your donors after their gift. You also know that you shouldn’t ask for a second gift immediately after the first one.

Good post-donation communications should include a thank-you and a statement about the impact their gift will make. A few weeks later, report how you used your donor’s gift. After you’ve proven that you use their money well and value their support, you can make another ask. Why not ask your donor to consider creating a recurring gift? If you’ve done your job well, they already know their money will be appreciated and well-used.

Asking a donor to consider a recurring gift after establishing a rapport with them makes sense… especially when your donor has a history with you. If a donor has made several one-time gifts, their commitment to your cause can easily translate to a recurring gift.

Some things to consider when creating appeals for a recurring giving program:

  • Did my donors receive timely thank-you notes for their past gift(s)?
  • Have my donors been told how their gifts made an impact in their community?
  • Are donors aware of how their money was used?
  • Have any of my donors given more than 1 gift?

You should always write appeals with care and with donor retention in mind. This is especially true with appeals for recurring donations!

Create a New Donor Drip Campaign

Donor retention takes time and resources. Donor cultivation takes even more time and resources. Nonprofits are often short on both time and resources. But a drip campaign can help you save both!

This webinar offers some fantastic insight into how drip campaigns can help boost donor retention (among other things). But the big takeaway is that you can use automated emails to educate and inspire new donors in a way that keeps them coming back to you.

Any automated email series should be carefully written and regularly reviewed by fundraising staff. Despite that, automated series are a great way to ensure that no donor is accidentally left out… and they can save you time!

Here’s some ideas for content for an automated email series:

  • Donor thank-you note and info on how you’ll use their gift
  • Update on how their money was used
  • Story from one of your clients showing what donations pay for
  • Appeal for a second donation (this is where you include recurring options!)

Automated email series have three benefits: they save you time and effort, provide consistent donor communication even when you’re busy, and help time appeals for recurring donations when it’s appropriate. They’re definitely a tool to consider adding to your fundraising toolbox.

Publicly Recognize Existing Recurring Donors

Recognizing your existing recurring donors is a great donor retention tool, but it’s also a valuable way to recruit more recurring donors. Public recognition is a social proof technique, and social proof is a valuable fundraising tool. Seeing that others support your mission with a recurring donation will make other people more likely to do the same thing. Publicly thanking recurring donors also shows others that you respect and appreciate your base of supporters, and that’s pretty convincing, too.

Before you publicly thank any recurring donor, make sure you understand what they are aren’t comfortable with. Some recurring donors may be uncomfortable with a great deal of public recognition. Others might not mind. A donor who might be comfortable having their name included in a public thank-you letter might not want to have their picture on your social media channels. However you decide to recognize your supporters, make sure you check with them, first!

Learn More about Recurring Donations and Qgiv

Building a recurring donation campaign is an art and a science. Luckily, we’ve got a few articles that can help get you started! Check out these articles:


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