Fundraise Smarter

3 Affordable Tips to Attract and Convert Monthly Donors

Posted by Su Sanni on Apr 24, 2017 3:12:00 PM

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Fundraising for nonprofits on a shoestring budget with limited resources can be unpredictably challenging. Recurring donations aims to assist with that problem.

However, monthly giving programs have an aim all on their own. We set up a quick poll on Twitter to find out exactly which ones are the most difficult to overcome for nonprofit fundraisers. The results certainly surprised us:


1.) Be personal whenever you can.

Here's the email we sent out for the survey:

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The response we received illustrates the struggle fundraisers face when it comes to getting donors aboard the monthly giving train. 

Now, at first it appeared to be a close tie between being personal and technical limitations, right? But then... history was made.

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Our good pal Geoff over here might be the official record holder for (maybe) the only person to ever submit a comment that received more votes than the top item on the poll itself. Bravo, bravo!

I wrote this email and created a poll because recurring donations is a topic that really fascinates me. I'm genuinely interested in learning more about it from your perspective and understanding your challenges. 

Here's why:

  • It helps me write great content focused on delivering real, personalized value to you
  • Valuable content gets more shares and attracts others.
  • Helping each other out embraces the principle of reciprocity
  • When you're genuine, it reflects in your messaging

So let's apply this to fundraising and establishing relationships with monthly donors. How could you have done something similar? 

  • Genuinely ask your donors to share why they feel connected to your cause
  • Create a valuable blog post and feature their responses (they'll share it)
  • Setup P2P Fundraising with WeDidIt (that offers recurring donations too) so donors can be a part of your cause & share their story

P2P Fundraising combined with social networking is a powerful tool for improving organic reach and can be really cost-effective.

2.) Leverage The Principle of Reciprocity

The Principle of Reciprocity was first introduced by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his renowned best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. This key principle showed that people are not only likely to return favors, but actually tend to pay forward much more than the value of the initial favor bestowed upon them.

Think about that time your neighbor or co-worker shared a meal with you or bought you something for your birthday, maybe even a holiday. Moments after receiving that gift you likely began to think about a next opportunity to do something for them. You may even yearn for that opportunity. That is the feeling of reciprocity at work, my friend. It also works in reverse, you may even feel guilty if you don't return the favor, right? Even knowing there were no prior obligations. We can leverage this powerful behavioral psychology principle to affordable fundraising.

Let's say you were about to launch your monthly giving program as an art gallery. Here are some marketing tactics to leverage reciprocity without costing you more than a direct mailer normally would. Here's an example:

  • Offer a free gift to new website visitors in exchange for the email + physical address. In marketing, these are known as lead magnets. You could offer a free artwork print or admission ticket.

    If you need more ideas
    , Digital Marketer has an extensive guide with suggestions.

When you deliver the free gift in the mail, include an insert with your ask. Appeal to them when the principle of reciprocity is in action.  

3.) Get the most out of what you have
(No Coding Required)

Often times, it may seem like getting more traffic or trying a new fundraising strategy is the go-to answer. However, that means more often than not, you'll be competing with other nonprofits for traffic and trying something new always brings unknown processes and unpredictable costs when it comes to both time and money - your two most valuable resources.

Is that a chance you're willing to take? Instead, build a stream of predictable consistent gifts from monthly donors by optimizing your website to increase conversions from you current traffic.

Your website is your hub for all your marketing efforts, it only makes sense to start building your foundation strong where all roads eventually lead.

Include a Soft-ask on Your Forms

OptionThis is really simple. When someone's completing a form to donate, you only have a few seconds to appeal to them about a monthly donation. Think about including the following as a checkbox above the final submission button.

This tactic is a passive and subtle approach of ensuring anyone who makes a contribution is being presented the opportunity to join the monthly giving program.

You can also include a checkmark box like this in your mailer inserts or anywhere else you think it'd be appropriate to place alongside your donation forms.

Pro-tip: The more you market and raise awareness for your monthly giving program prior to the donation page form, the more likely someone will consider enrolling. 

Create an Exit-intent Popup

An exit-intent popup appears when a visitor intends to leave your page. Effectively, they give you one last shot to shoot the buzzer beater and convince your visitor they should contribute before they leave so don't be afraid to use emotional triggers. Now, shooting from half-court with one second left isn't likely to win you many games - but it's a chance that you didn't have before and it's with every visitor. That adds up over time, and remember it only costs you a few minutes to do.

For example, this took 7 minutes to set-up:


Exit-intent popups typically see a 2-6% conversion rate, but some have reported as high as 14%! Even at a modest 3% conversion rate: If your average monthly contribution is $10 and you get 1,500 visitors/month, that's roughly ~$5,400 extra you could be raising per year!

Quick Setup Guide

Sign-up at, it's free and has tools to help you optimize your website. Copy and paste their code into the <head> of your website.

  • Once set-up, navigate to My Tools via or your website.
  • Enable List Builder and create a new form
  • For My Goal choose Add a Call to Action
  • For Form Type choose Popup
  • For Design, get creative and make sure the design resembles your brand
  • Under Visibility choose Manual and User Leaves

Pro Tip: Remove the X at the top right of the popup when you're customizing your design. Having it there adds one more choice besides yes. Instead, leave your visitor with only 2 choices instead of 3. You don't want anything deterring from your ask. 

Sumo includes a lot of customization options and A/B testing - even for the free version. Be a scientist, experimentation improves conversion! Try comparing different designs, colors, buttons, and especially the important things like how much you're asking for.

Create a High-Converting Recurring Donation Page

At WeDidIt, we're all about the science of fundraising. Implementing a sequential donation form on your donation page can increase conversions by more than 5% according to Kyle Rush, who was in charge of testing and web optimization Obama's 2nd presidential campaign.

A sequential donation form breaks the process Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.38.03 AMinto three steps instead of presenting the viewer with an overwhelming amount of fields at once. 

As a nonprofit, donation conversions is a vital metric that directly impacts your organization. This is just one of many features you have access to within the WeDidIt online fundraising platform that you can benefit from, without spending an arm and a leg. Not to mention all of our customers also receive access to Insights: a tool you can use to better understand your donors and amplify your personal targetting efforts for fundraising.

Let's chat and discuss how our platform can accelerate your fundraising goals and improve donor outreach. 

What does your organization do to improve recurring donations? Let us know below or tweet it, we'd love to hear from you!

Topics: monthly giving, recurring donations, donor acquisiiton, donation pages

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