Essential Building Blocks For Your Recurring Giving Program

Recurring Giving

recurring giving

It is well known that nonprofits have long-struggled with average donor retention rates below 50%.  Now, it seems, they are beginning to take steps to combat this attrition.  According to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, surveys indicate that donor retention, for the first time, considered more important than donor acquisition.  So, it should be good news to nonprofits that people are increasingly accustomed to subscription services for commercial consumption, which may make them more inclined to opt-in to sustaining or recurring giving when it comes to charitable contributions.

There are many elements that contribute to a good recurring giving program.  At the core, an organization needs to ensure that it has infrastructure in place to run and manage the program with minimal expenditure of human resources.

Here are some of the basic tools that your donation software should supply:


  1. You need to be able to communicate the importance/impact of a recurring gift. For example, you’re not asking a donor to give you $35 / month – you’re asking a donor to feed a child for a month.  Be sure that you can convey this impact and report on which donation packages result in the greatest gifts.
    For more on donation packaging, CLICK HERE.

Payment processing

  1. Obviously you will need the ability to process recurring payments via credit card or ACH.  Ideally, you can offer donors some options when it comes to the frequency of their recurring gift – annual, bi-annual, quarterly, monthly.
  2. To avoid chargebacks, be sure that your organization’s name is reflected on credit card/bank statements.
  3. Be sure credit card expiration dates are monitored and look for integrated tools to help you automatically communicate this expiration to the donor and recapture the gift without the need for manual intervention.


  1. Your organization should have the ability to configure the look, feel and messaging on receipts and have the software automatically deliver receipts to recurring donors.
    • Look for the option to supply or suppress reminder notices to be sent to the donor in advance of a recurring gift.
    • Look for the option to supply or suppress receipts to be sent to the donor following each recurring gift.
    • Look for the option to supply an end-of year summary receipt to recurring donors.

Notifications & Communications

  1. Be sure you have the ability to easily identify recurring donors.  Ideally, you will be able to set an alert to notify a relevant person within your organization when a new recurring gift is established so that the donor can promptly receive a personal thank you.
  2. Recurring donors demonstrate investment in your cause and commitment to your organization. You want to communicate with them differently than you would a one-time donor.  Look for the ability to automatically group recurring donors and nurture them with a special email welcome series that is triggered to begin when a new recurring gift is made.


Starting a recurring giving program?  Refining a program already in place?  CONTACT US  to see how you can streamline your process.