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Five tips to expand your non profit’s monthly donor base

publication date: Mar 8, 2016
author/source: Kathleen Grace
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Kathleen GraceCanadians are some of the most generous people in the world when it comes to charitable giving. According to the 2015 CAF World Giving Index, Canada is the fourth most generous nation in the world, trailing only Myanmar, the United States and New Zealand. Millions of dollars are donated annually to Canada’s 86,000 registered Canadian charities which undoubtedly makes a massive impact on a national and international scale. However, donor retention is a major challenge for many charities, with just 25.4% of new donors making a gift the next year.

So, how do you keep your donors, and keep them giving? Cultivating a strong monthly giving program is one of the most effective methods of improving donor retention.  It can take time to grow your monthly donor program, but it’s a worthy investment. Monthly donors stay loyal longer allowing your charity to raise more money and spend less doing so.  To help build the number of monthly donors giving to your cause, here are five tips for your non-profit:

1. Explain the advantages

You received the one or more gifts from a donor already, so you know your cause resonates and matters to that donor. Inspire your donors to give monthly by sharing how a small, regular monthly gift can help your organization more than the equivalent gift made once per year.

There are many benefits to your charity when it has a steady stream of monthly donations. Not only do monthly donations increase donor loyalty helping you raise more funds over time, they save costs in marketing and fundraising and provide a stable and reliable revenue stream allowing your organization to better forecast and plan to best meet service demands. Your relationship with donors also improves as you can focus your communications on sharing the work their support has made possible, deepening their affinity for your cause, rather than continually asking them for more money.  And for donors, giving monthly is easy. Donations are made automatically – always at the same time, and at a smaller amount so it’s less noticeable.

Once donors know their monthly support will help stretch their impact even further, they will understand the benefits and will likely be swayed into supporting your organization on a monthly basis. So, share the benefits with your donors on your website, in mailers, and other marketing materials and outreach.

 2. Systemize your monthly donations and set yourself up for continuous learning

When implementing a new monthly donations program or enhancing your current approach, it is important to stay organized and develop a solid strategy to effectively make the most of your monthly giving donations. It’s critical that you seek to continually improve your understanding of your donors and their activity by gathering information. To accomplish this, try to answer some of the following questions:

-        What is the average age or demographic of your supporters?

-        What is the average size of your donations?

-        What is your rate of donor acquisition? Do you receive several one-time donations, or do the same donors give to you once or twice a year?

-        What time of year is your peak season for donations?

-        Why do people give? Is it because they were asked by a third party fundraiser or because of an event your charity organized?

The answers to your questions will help you gain a solid understanding of your current donor base which is a vital asset when developing a marketing strategy to increase your monthly donors. If you know your average one-time donation is $100.00, set a monthly $10.00 giving amount to attract one-time donors to your monthly giving program while also securing added support. But don’t assume you’ve got it right!  Work to continually to gather more information and test your assumptions and your monthly donation program will grow stronger.

3. Share the impact a monthly gift makes 

One of the most effective ways to solicit donations is to tie in charitable gifts that are in direct relation to your cause. This strategy helps donors understand exactly where their money is going, will provide a tangible idea as to how they are helping, and it will also add a compelling narrative to persuade a prospective donor. For example, if you work at a food bank, calculate the cost of providing food to one family for a week and offer that amount as the size for a monthly donation. 

4. Communicate with your donors

As an organization, it is important for you to stay in touch with your donors on a regular basis and express gratitude for their support. Whether you choose to communicate through email marketing, advertising, personally over the phone, via social media, or through another form of communication, it is vital to let your donors know what is happening in your organization to gain their prolonged support through monthly donations. Don’t be afraid to share your success stories or ways in which your organization is looking to further its impact. Your prospective monthly donors want to know that their donations are making an impact before making a commitment.

5. Simply ask 

There are millions of Canadians looking to give back and give generously. By simply asking your supporters to give monthly when they make a one-time donation you not only are letting them know about the giving options available, but you are making an appeal that they will likely feel compelled to answer. Also, sometimes it’s your existing monthly donors who are ready to give a little more. If you have an urgent need or an exciting new program which requires support, it may be a good time to simply ask your long standing monthly donors if they can give a little more. Place a clear and direct call to action on your mailers, website, email, and other forms of marketing and outreach to your donors.

Kathleen Grace  is the Donor Marketing Manager  at CanadaHelps. allows donors to safely donate and fundraise online for any registered Canadian charity and also provides charities the secure online fundraising platform and education resources they need to succeed. As a registered charity itself, CanadaHelps has facilitated more than $550 million in donations to Canadian charities online since launching in 2000. Over 16,000 Canadian charities fundraise online using the CanadaHelps platform. Stay connected with CanadaHelps on Twitter @CanadaHelps.


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