5 tips to get more recurring donors over the holidays

on November 05, 2018

#GivingTuesday, the global day of philanthropy that kicks off the holiday giving season, is right around the corner. And, if you’re like most nonprofits, this time of year ignites your community’s generosity and helps you raise a good portion of your annual funding for your cause.

But what if the donors that gave on #GivingTuesday and over the holiday season also continued to give throughout the entire year? The holiday giving season can be the perfect time to initiate a subscription or membership relationship: in other words, a recurring donor.

Make the holidays last all year long

According to Jessica Schneider at 92nd Street Y, the cultural center that spearheaded the #GivingTuesday movement, the holidays are such a huge time for charitable giving because “people are tired of so much negativity. This is an opportunity to do something positive.”

And the numbers prove it. Year over year, nonprofit holiday giving has seen steady increases with 61% of donors saying they’re more inspired to give during the holiday season than other times of the year. So doing what you can to spread your mission and encourage year-round contributions should be an integral part of your holiday fundraising strategy.

Let’s dig into a few tips you can use this holiday season to make sure you’re capturing donors who may want to up their commitment of supporting your nonprofit.

Tip #1: Offer recurring donations

It might sound a little too simple, but we find, often times, nonprofits don’t realize they can add recurring donation functionality to their pre-existing checkout processes. 


Don’t give your supporter just one option when it comes to supporting your cause monetarily. Instead, make sure you’re using all of the functionality available to you as a nonprofit organizer and allow for recurring donations to be offered to your donors.

Tip #2: Ask for recurring donations

Again, this might seem simple. But for many, enabling the ability for supporters to donate monthly or annually is a far as they take it. They hope the inclusion of the feature in checkout alone will do the convincing. It may for work for some, but others in your community may need some warming up to the idea before clicking the donate button.

In your holiday communications, your story on your website or landing page, and even in your social media posts, specifically message about your subscription or membership offer. If you’re able to offer some sort of additional value to the membership, like exclusive updates, early access, or discounts to events or swag, be sure you’re calling that out as well. Sometimes just a clear call-to-action will spark something in your donor that compels them to go the subscription route when checking out.

Tip #3: Show the impact of a monthly donation versus a one-time donation

91% of holiday donors say that hope and empathy inspire their holiday giving. So make sure you’re creating an emotional appeal when you’re asking for a recurring donation. Highlight an individual person, animal, child, or need that your cause has helped, then take it one step further by making the connection between the impact a one-time holiday gift would have versus a year-long commitment to that story.

Additionally, if possible, represent your donors in your messaging. For instance, create messaging for first-time donors, messaging for those who have benefited from your cause in the past, and messaging that speaks directly to high-wealth donors. Appealing to these groups differently will lead to more engagement, and will help form a deeper connection with the action you’re trying to encourage them to take.

Tip #4: Break down the monthly gift in terms that resonate with your supporters

Sticker shock can definitely get in the way of committing to a monthly gift. So, in order to combat this scenario, break down the appeal in a way that shines a light on how manageable this type of giving can actually be.


Nonprofits can easily use their phone to take a photo that helps illustrate what monthly giving could look like to their supporter. The example above depicts how, for the price of one latte a week, your supporter could give a sizable contribution that would make a huge impact to your cause over the course of the year. And, all it took was a quick picture of some coffee to get across that powerful message.

By taking the amount, in this case $180, down to a manageable level, your supporters will start to see how they can find room in their wallets to support your cause year round.

Tip #5: Be so appreciative

By choosing to make a monthly recurring donation, or join a membership or subscription program, these community members are demonstrating their commitment to your work and cause. Make sure they feel appreciated, not only at the time of their first donation, but throughout the subscription term. When you can provide them with additional value year-round as a result of a recurring donation , they’re more likely to continue to dig in deeper with your organization in all kinds of ways.


If you can leverage the holiday season to activate new recurring donors, and communicate in a way that resonates with your supporters about the value of their membership, a recurring donation program can become a powerful mechanism for growth in your overall fundraising.

Rilee Chastain

Rilee Chastain is the Content Marketing Specialist at CrowdRise. She is passionate about content optimization and all things social, and cares way too much about her Instagram aesthetic. She also has a life goal to eat mac and cheese at least 3 times a week.