A well-managed, sustainable recurring giving or membership program is an invaluable asset for nonprofits. Its benefits can be game-changing:
- A reliable source of unrestricted year-round revenue
- A vital community of supporters passionate about and engaged with your cause
- An audience of retained donors eager to hear about your next event, program, or campaign
A healthy giving program gives you more time to grow your nonprofit’s impact with programming, relationship-building, and prospect research. When supported by plenty of outreach and the right engagement offerings, it can also foster a more dynamic sense of community around your mission.
But to achieve these benefits, you can’t simply turn on a recurring donation option on your giving page and sit back. Your program has to be carefully cultivated and proactively managed. But how do you get started? We have a few tips:
Proactively protect your relationships with donors.
Many donors are giving now more than ever, which is especially poignant amid the past years’ challenges. But new incoming donations do little to advance your mission if they’re simply replacing lost ones. Safeguarding your relationships with donors, i.e. reducing donor churn, should always be a fundamental part of your recurring giving strategy.
Securing recurring donations is more difficult than securing one-time gifts. If you’ve already successfully converted a donor into a regular giver, losing their support represents a bigger loss of time, energy, and potential revenue. To grow your giving program sustainably, you’ll need to address churn at the source.
How to Predict and Reduce Churn: 3 Steps
To grow your giving program and your donors’ lifetime values, you’ll need to proactively predict and reduce donor churn.
And this doesn’t have to be hard or logistically infeasible. Nonprofits are using machine learning software to screen their data, recognize giving patterns, and flag churn risks in advance. We’ve seen nonprofits achieve great results with this formula:
- Predict churn in advance using machine learning. AI studies your entire database of donation and engagement metrics and continually refines its predictions over time.
- Engage your at-risk donors to recapture their attention. Using the list generated by the machine learning software, begin reaching out to your at-risk donors to put your mission back on their minds. We especially recommend personal phone calls to reestablish your connection and express appreciation—just don’t ask for another gift.
- Measure your progress and repeat the process. Keep close track of your retention and churn rates over time, and correlate any trends to specific re-engagement tactics you might’ve used.
The beauty of this formula is that it’s truly scalable for nonprofits with limited resources and can significantly boost the ROI of your donor engagement efforts. Machine learning generates ranked lists of at-risk donors, meaning your team can quickly prioritize their work and start reaching out immediately.
Plus, AI can measure the propensity of other donor actions related to your giving program. For instance, use it to measure the likelihood of a lapsed donor to restart their giving if you get back in touch or that a cash donor will become a regular giver.
Work smarter, not harder, to convert new regular givers.
Beyond helping you reduce churn, AI can also make it easier to grow your giving program more efficiently. The process is similar—machine learning identifies one-time donors in your database who’ll likely be interested in joining.
Just generate a list of these donors, develop an email stream or calling program and unique perk or promotion to catch their attention, and watch your recurring donation or membership revenue grow!
As mentioned above, converting one-time donors into regular givers is difficult. With the right technology focusing your efforts from the start, your team can skip the tricky first steps of finding candidates. Then, instead of blasting promotions and calls to action to everyone, you can take a more targeted, personalized approach, which further boosts the chances that you’ll secure new repeat donors.
If using machine learning technology sounds like the right move for your organization, discuss it with your leadership team. Try to answer questions like, “Are we getting true benefits from our recurring giving program? Are there more or new steps we can take to boost growth and retention? Are we actively using technology to help, or are we taking a guesswork-driven approach?”
Managing giving programs is challenging. But the rewards of a well-managed, active, and engaged community of regular givers are immense. Proactively managing your giving program should definitely be on your radar for 2022.
Tim Paris, CEO and Co-Founder
Tim is the co-founder and CEO of Dataro. He holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Following roles in academia and startups, he co-founded Dataro in 2018 alongside schoolmate David Lyndon. The company’s mission is to help charities improve fundraising using the latest machine learning and predictive modelling techniques.