Monthly Giving Doesn’t Just Happen

“Every opportunity that you have where you’re reaching out to donors and your prospects, see where you can build in the option for monthly giving.”
-Erica Waasdorp, author and monthly giving expert on RKD’s Group Thinker’s podcast


Going for gold with your monthly donor program? I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s all about a little elbow grease and a whole lot of consistency.

Many animal welfare organizations we work with have increased their focus on monthly donor programs over the last few years, and for good reason. Just look at a few of these numbers:

  • 45% of worldwide donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program
  • According to research on nonprofit giving, the average recurring donor will give 42% more in one year than those who give one-time gifts
  • While new donor retention rates average less than 20%, monthly giving programs typically enjoy retention rates of over 80% after the first year and 95% after year five
  • RKD’s animal welfare clients saw a 45% increase in monthly donors during the COVID bump (March 2020 – March 2021)

Unfortunately, monthly donor success doesn’t happen overnight. Remember the consistency secret I mentioned earlier?

Our team has found that the best way to see long-term growth in monthly donor programs is through a digital-first, “always-on” approach.

Why digital-first? With the rise of the subscription model – think Netflix and BarkBox – many donors are used to making monthly recurring payments online.

When we emphasize “always on,” we’re talking about more than just adding a monthly giving option to your main donation form. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great place to start. But there are many other digital channels that are useful when building your monthly donor strategies—and they should be leveraged consistently throughout the year.

For many of our clients, our strategies include evergreen monthly giving paid media campaigns, targeted website optimizations and monthly asks in email welcome series. And while digital is our primary focus for monthly giving campaigns, direct mail can also provide many opportunities to acquire recurring donors.

This is just a high-level look at our always-on approach. On September 28, I’ll dive into the details in my upcoming webinar with Maegan Hoffmann, Director of Donor Experience at SPCA of Texas. In this session, we’ll share some research RKD’s monthly donor task force recently conducted on sustainers. We’ll also dig into our “always-on” approach, sharing strategies and examples.

If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to register for “Sticking to the Plan: Monthly Giving doesn’t Happen by Chance” today.


Hayley Smith is Vice President, Digital, at RKD Group. She has 15 years of experience working alongside nonprofits to create integrated digital strategies that lead to multichannel growth and high-value donors. Hayley has been with RKD since 2019, and has helped dozens of animal welfare organizations across the U.S. see the big picture of digital performance, guiding strategies that optimize donor journeys to tell their story on devices of all shapes and sizes.


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