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What’s Driving the Surge in Monthly Giving?

by Nicholas Hedenkamp | NonProfitPRO


Monthly giving revenue grew by 24{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} in 2021 over 2020, according to M+R. Not surprising.

It’s old news that monthly giving programs can have a significant impact on direct response programs. They drive sustained, predictable revenue and donors are incredibly loyal — retaining at 80{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} after one year and 95{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} after five years. However, what is particularly noteworthy in 2021 is that monthly giving growth far outpaced overall, one-time revenue — with one-time gifts revenue declining by 1{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} in 2021. In fact, monthly giving now accounts for 22{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} of all online revenue.

So why is monthly giving so attractive to so many donors? And how are nonprofits positioning and promoting the giving vehicle to donors?

As we’ve worked through the impact of the pandemic, we know that donors’ preferences are highly dynamic and have changed. A donor’s charity of choice may have shifted to a new organization. Fundraisers may or may not choose to attend a physical event in which they are participating. This change is also evident and especially true in the ways they give.

More answers lie in the consumer market and the subscription economy. We know that subscription-based services are highly attractive to both consumers and brands. They have grown exponentially in the last 10 years and that growth has continued through the pandemic. More than anything, subscriptions offer consumers convenience — the ability to make a choice and forget about it — all while receiving just-in-time delivery of the product or service before needing more of it. 

As the convenience and the ubiquity of subscription services grow, donors are able to extend this convenience to the nonprofits that they choose to support. While a donor may desire to make a big impact for a cause of his or her choice, he may not have the capacity to do so at that time. Monthly giving is a suitable option to show ongoing, sustained support to this charity — while driving impact. And I think those changes in donor preferences are here to stay.

In 2020, as the global pandemic unfolded, donors responded with extreme generosity and online giving soared. While the impact of giving softened in 2021, there were still bright spots within the philanthropic landscape. For example, while one-time gift revenue was flat, monthly donors persisted. Nonprofits were able to retain their monthly donors from 2021. To be exact, nearly 36{db3a81091b7c379d31e472a49617efea47c73081395c2b5a547685e6e0e77494} of donors that made an online monthly gift in 2020 returned in 2021. Better yet, donors were more generous in 2021 and the average revenue per donor was $208, an increase from an average of $170 in 2020. Online monthly giving played a crucial role in philanthropy for nonprofits in 2021.

Monthly giving can continue to play an important role for philanthropy through uncertain times, serving as a reliable source of revenue. A move toward monthly giving, larger gifts per donor and a commitment to retaining those donors will be key for organizations in 2022 and beyond.

Ready to unlock the potential of your monthly giving program? Consider these four keys to success.

1. Make Online Donations Easy

Donors prefer easier digital methods to give to your organization. Consider mobile friendly donation forms if you don’t already have a system in place at your nonprofit. Leverage tools, like Pay Pal and Apple Pay, to simplify one-click commitment. If your donors are buying cars online, shouldn’t they be able to support you just as easily?

2. Engage With Your Donors

To grow your pool of donors in a digital world you must look outside of your existing community to engage with new audiences. Personalize communications to attract a diverse and new audience and provide them with a digital space to make it easy for them to engage with you.

3. Articulate a Case for Support

Remember that convenience is why subscriptions are attractive. Show prospects that they can cancel at any time and what the impact that larger, ongoing support means to your organizational mission.

4. Speak the Language Your Donors Speak

In a digital environment where you only have a few moments to capture a potential and existing donor’s attention, it is important to use language your supporters know and are familiar with. Craft your language to pertain to your audience, otherwise potential donors might glance over your page, post or email. Try something new that is innovative and brings more online donors to your page.

Your donors’ expectations for personalization have changed. Consider this an opportunity to appeal to the human experience versus donor or consumer experiences. The way we engage, communicate and show support has changed and it’s time nonprofit organizations align.

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Nicholas HedenkampAuthor’s page

As an insights consultant, Nicholas Hedenkamp is responsible for providing a deeper dive into constituent and transaction data for nonprofits. As an additional part of his role, he researches current and ongoing industry trends to provide fresh data and ideas to clients and Pursuant. He has experience in nonprofit fundraising both as a volunteer and development coordinator. Most recently, he worked for the statewide nonprofit Colorado Health Network, where he develops new fundraising strategies and grew its donor portfolio.

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