Great stat from the Democratic National Committee’s head of digital fundraising, Clarke Humphrey, at today’s CampaignTech Innovation Summit: 30% of the DNC’s digital income arrives via recurring donations. Thirty percent! So, assuming that relatively few recurring donors drop out of the program month to month, the party can count on receiving close to one-third of its grassroots donor donations arriving automatically, without staff having to beg for the honor.
How do recurring donations work? Assuming that your fundraising technology supports them (and most do), donors can sign up to have your system save their credit card info and bill them monthly. Recurring donors continue giving whether you ask them or not, as long as they keep the credit card you have on file up-to-date. Some will surely drop out over time, but cutting off a monthly gift takes both a conscious decision and takes a few clicks, at least until the card expires.
Not surprisingly, many campaigns and nonprofits go out of their way encourage donors to sign up to give monthly, whether at first sign-up or as part of a concerted campaign to turn occasional donors into recurring ones. The benefits should be obvious: an organization can count on a recurring donation, quite literally. Unfortunately, that predictability is so valuable that some organizations try to opt new donors into a recurring program automatically, often by pre-checking a “make this a recurring donation” box that supporters can easily overlook. It’s a bad practice, and it can turn off donors who feel like they’ve been taken advantage of, potentially poisoning them against giving online at all.
Bad actors notwithstanding, recurring donations work. They make giving easy for our supporters, they give us a baseline income that our fundraising program can depend on, and they build the long-term relationships that most political and advocacy groups need if they’re planning for the long run. So, what’s your recurring-donor strategy?
For more, check out the fundraising sections of “How to Use the Internet to Change the World – and Win Elections” as well as past fundraising-related Epolitics.com articles. Or, drop me a line.