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Posted on 
January 22, 2021

Recurring Donor Methodology

In the last entry we considered the benefits of a recurring gift program. Unlike pledge drives, recurring giving can provide your supporters greater convenience while achieving sustainable and predictable year-round giving. But once your organization decides to implement such a program, what critical steps must you take to successfully recruit and retain recurring gift donors? What potential hazards might complicate your transition over to recurring gift strategies and technologies? Before your organization and donors can reap the benefits of a well-orchestrated recurring gift program, it must coordinate a successful rollout.

Prepare Your Staff

As with any new initiative, a recurring gift program will make unique demands upon your staff. Before you can recruit donors, you need to coach staff members on how to manage recurring giving accounts and how to inform potential donors of the relevant technologies used to collect giving. In addition to being able to answer questions on how donations are put to good use, staff should be able to address concerns over the security safeguards protecting donor credit card or banking information. Donors have the right to know specific details about the data repositories and processing centers that handle donor transactions, and staff should be conversant enough with the relevant methods to offer assurances.

Once you instruct your staff on the benefits of recurring giving and the technologies used to secure it, ask their help in devising effective ways of incorporating recurring giving into your existing fundraising and promotion efforts.

Hammer Out the Process

Your staff should also assist you in establishing an internal workflow to support the program. Begin by giving your program a name that stresses the exclusivity and prestige you want associated with it. Designing a logo for the program will further emphasize that this is a distinct, preferred giving option. Determine how you will upgrade regular and occasional donors to recurring giving and set a schedule for sending out donor appeals. Be sure to delegate any new administrative responsibilities to the appropriate staff members. Additional work should be minimal, but it’s important to ensure that your staff knows their role in supporting the program.
You will also need to integrate the necessary payment processing technology with your existing capabilities. Be certain that your current constituent relationship management system can support the new desired features.

Develop Donor Awareness

Once your staff is prepared, use all available resources to promote the launch of your recurring gift program. Email newsletters, direct postal mail, and Facebook pages are all excellent means of informing your donors of new giving options. Your website and mobile giving pages and apps should invite donors to explore recurring giving, as well. Providing links to the more technical details of payment processing may increase donor confidence in the security of recurring giving, so consider including them.

Recurring givers probably represent some of your organization’s most dedicated supporters, so informing them of the financial and administrative benefits of recurring giving may provide them with additional incentives to embrace it. Because recurring giving is automated, a smaller percentage of donations are allocated to administrative fees, and donors will appreciate knowing that more of their money goes directly toward the cause they support. Donors will also need to know that they may suspend their giving at any time, and that the same user-friendly interfaces that permit them to set up a recurring gift account will allow them to revise their giving preferences at will.

Anticipate Challenges

A recurring gift program is an excellent development strategy that benefits both donors and organizations, but your staff should be aware of the potential drawbacks. Your organization’s donor processing infrastructure must be capable of handling large volumes of donation transactions securely and in a timely manner or risk mishandling data. Perhaps most importantly, your organization needs a way of updating donor credit card and account information. If billing details change or an account expires, scheduled gifts may not clear so your organization should be prepared to love those donors so much they keep on giving.

We hope you've enjoyed our blog series on recurring giving. Our free white paper provides even deeper insight into recurring giving programs.