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How to build your recurring donor base?

Including a regular giving plan in your overall fundraising strategy is a must if you want to build a sustainable and successful fundraising campaign over time. 

The more regular donors you have, the better your fundraising ratios will be.

You must therefore get started as soon as possible by making the right investments. Below you will find a series of tips for an effective regular giving strategy!

When to make regular donation appeals

february-articleThe first question to ask is “when” to implement regular donation appeals in your fundraising plan. The answer to this question will depend on the channels you choose to use.

Channels requiring large investments such as street fundraising, door-to-door or telemarketing should be your focus at the beginning of the year. By acquiring recurring donors early, you will benefit from a greater number of direct debits during your fiscal year and therefore your ROI calculated over the fiscal year will be higher. For other channels, the strategy of transforming into regular donations can take place throughout the year.

Acquiring regular donors vs. converting your one-time donors.

february-article_6A distinction must also be made between the strategy of acquiring regular donors versus the strategy of converting one-time donors into recurring donors.

When it comes to acquisition to grow your donor base, we are talking about potential donors who have never made a donation to you. This strategy is only effective by using street fundraising or door to door.

Sending an email, direct mail or phoning people who don’t know you and asking them to support you on a regular basis is ineffective.

You can also run a TV spot proposing the option of regular donation and invite viewers to call a toll-free number: at the end of the call, a call center will finish the sales pitch and collect the necessary information to set up the monthly donation.

You can of course also provide a regular donation option on your donation page on your website: the iRaiser donation form offers you this possibility.


Regarding the strategy for converting existing donors into regular donors, there are multiple possibilities.

When using direct mail, it is not effective to send a mail proposing only a regular donation. It’s better to mention it in your usual campaigns by suggesting both options: one proposing a one-time donation, the other proposing a regular donation. You can add a small pamphlet highlighting the advantages of your recurring giving program.

When you send out newsletters, don’t forget to include articles dedicated to recurring giving so that your donors become familiar with this method. You can also include special inserts inside your newsletter, such as a press insert.

Your thank-you letter or tax receipt is also a good opportunity to propose a regular donation through a newsletter and a dedicated leaflet, whether for a new or already loyal donor.

When communicating digitally, you can send a campaign dedicated to regular giving or include this proposal in your new donor welcome cycle.



Telemarketing remains the most effective channel to transform your donor into a regular donor: whether your donor was recruited through print or digital channels, these channels should be coupled with telemarketing. Three months after the donor's first donation, they should receive a welcome call during which they're offered to become a regular donor.

The same goes for your loyal donor database: whether they give to your organisation by mail or online, don’t hesitate to call them to suggest they commit to a regular donation. Your telemarketers will be able to enter, directly into the iRaiser payment application, the necessary information to set up the regular donation.


Your Target

When it comes to targeting prospective donors, one-time donors giving less than your average donation are often not open to regular giving. On the other hand, don’t solicit your middle and large donors either: by making them join the regular donation cycle, you risk making them give less than their actual gift potential.


The Pitch

february-article-2Whether it is given orally or in writing, to create an effective pitch it must at least use the following arguments:

  • The advantages for the donor (ease, planning of expenses, the ability to stop the regular donation at any time etc…)
  • How it can benefit your organisation
  • The equivalence of their donation. For example: “10 euros per month represents one meal per day for 20 days for a child from South Sudan.” The donor needs to “visualise” what their contribution represents. Remember to mention them on your online donation form as well.


Retain your regular donors.

february-article-3Once your donor has committed to a monthly giving program, you have to make sure you don’t lose them.

In street-fundraising, the churn rate is particularly high in the first year, especially in the first few months, and this is when you have to be vigilant.

You will find that the donors with the lowest regular donation as well as the youngest donors are the most at risk. you must therefore call to reassure them promptly after their subscription, welcome them, and give them proof of the effectiveness of your actions. If they wish to stop, offer them a lower donation amount or a temporary pause in their monthly commitment: this is often very effective.

For donors who make regular donations through other channels (online fundraising, telemarketing, mail), make sure to send them newsletters but as few donation campaigns as possible. You should remind them of the effectiveness of your actions on a regular basis but nothing more.

For donors who subscribe to regular credit card donations, we invite you to read below a practical tip to reduce the churn rate.


Don’t be afraid to ask for more.

Finally, think about asking for a gift increase: after one year of regular giving, think about asking for a higher recurring donation. Whether you appeal for it digitally, in telemarketing or by mail, when you send a thank you letter or an annual tax receipt, gift upgrades work very well so don’t hesitate to ask for a few more euros per month!

If you don’t have the iRaiser payment application yet that allows you to offer your supporters the option to donate regularly, contact us today!


iRaiser Payment AppTip

Campaign for automatic renewal of monthly donations by credit card

Did you know that our payment app allows you to create a specific campaign, along with a series of automatic emails, to remind your donors to renew their monthly donation when their credit card is about to expire? You can even suggest they increase their donation amount by 3, 6 or 8 euros compared to their previous gift. Cool, isn’t it?

Don’t miss this opportunity and set up your renewal campaign now! Include new regular supporters in your donation strategy and propose them a monthly donation in your thank-you letters or tax receipts... To find out more, read iRaiser's article: tax receipts & thank-you letters: a fundraising opportunity!