4 Ways to Turn a First-Time Contribution into a Recurring Donation

A hand holds a phone and there's a keyboard in the background. Text says, "Donate"

You’ve done it! You finally got that donor (the one who has been pledging for the last 3 months) to make a contribution. First, take a moment to celebrate the success of converting this person into a supporter! Second, consider and appreciate just how much work it took to bring that donor over the line. It makes you think: How can I get a better ROI and maximize our supporters’ giving potential? How can I turn these first-time contributions into recurring donations so that the reward is even greater?

How’d they go from voter to donor?

It’s important to remind yourself that donors are people too.  They have a lot to juggle in their lives.  They have families, jobs, interests, values, dinging cell phones, and so many choices to make each day.  One choice they’ve made: Donating to you! As you seek recurring donations, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Show donors that they are valued supporters
  • Encourage them to continue contributing to your campaign
  • Demonstrate that recurring donations can fold easily into their hectic schedules

What you do next to engage a donor should show them how valued their contributions are and how easy it is to set up recurring donations.  For example, you could compare recurring contributions to a Netflix subscription. If they’re paying $20 a month for their Netflix subscription, surely an automatic monthly donation to your campaign is worth it to see progress on the issues they care about.

Sounds great, but what does that look like in practice?  To help, we’ve put together a list of four ways that you can transform first-time contributions into recurring donations.

How to turn one-time donors into recurring donors

1. Thank your new donors

There’s a reason ‘Thank’ is one of the standard interaction results on Numero’s CRM. Thank your donors and tell them you appreciate them, no matter the contribution amount. Spend time crafting a thoughtful thank you message. Include links to your website and social media channels so they can stay in-the-know.  Add in a mail-merged contribution link to make it super simple to give more.  While the thank you message is sent automatically, it’s important that it be authentic and engaging, as it is a key pathway to gaining that donor’s ongoing support.

Now you might be wondering, how do I organize such a thing? Well, if you’re a Numero customer, you can use our dynamic Lists feature, which automates the process.  This feature allows you to save a list that updates with just your first-time donors for that week.  You can then use this list to send those people a customized thank-you text or email. Among its features, Numero’s form customization lets you set potential recurring donations by contribution amount and toggle on a recurring donation pop-up window or  send a link that automatically makes these contributions recurring (Ask us how!).

Image text reads, "Cheaper than a Netflix subscription. Click below to make this contribution recurring"

2. Give your donors the reason, the motivation, and the access to give again

Giving to your campaign must be accessible, simple, and even rewarding. The following tips — that we’ve gathered from several Numero clients — have proven to keep donors active and coming back to support over and over:

  • Use your timeline to your advantage and give donors an entry level contribution amount that makes sense. Evaluate your overall ask, individual contribution limit, and how much time you have to reach that as your goal. Are you 24 months away from the general with a $400 max? Set your recurring contribution request to $16 per month. Craft a message that celebrates recurring donors because, over time, their support will be at the highest impact level possible.

Perhaps you’re closer to the general election and are ready to make a bigger ask to certain donors for a one-time donation. Follow up later with a relatively smaller ask that gets you closer to your goal and gets them closer to their max.

  • Establish a heightened sense of community with your supporters. Consider your recurring monthly donors as the core folks at your events.  Maybe they can join you for open calltime (think office hours rather than an expensive event). Offer them a window to join you for a chat or add them as some of the first invited to a local event. Once you’ve decided on these community-building events, be sure to highlight them as perks for recurring donors!
  • Craft a compelling email appeal that includes Contribution URLs to a new recurring form. Your giving levels should be substantially lower when targeting recurring contributions because lower asks are more accessible and appealing to your donors. Consider making your new contribution form look and feel like a more elevated version of the campaign’s branding by editing your form templates and giving the recurring donations a fitting title, like this:
numero graphic

3. Find the right words

Communicate the impact of a recurring contribution. Your messaging should show your supporters how sustained funding helps your team and improves your outreach. Fill in the blanks: I’m asking for additional support because _________. Your recurring contribution helps us because ________.

Sending voicemail drops with Numero Plus? Try this script out for size:

“Hi, this is [Candidate], I’m calling to thank you again for your support this year.  If you’re able, I want to humbly ask if you’d match your prior level of support to either make another contribution or join us as a recurring monthly donor to help our team canvass and help get volunteers out, about, and hydrated. You can choose to stop these recurring contributions at any time by contacting our office. We’ll send you a text with a link that can make it super easy to support!”

4. Make it personal

Spend time looking at your past donors to determine your best next step. Reach out to folks who are “grassroots” donors.  These are donors that give smaller contributions but are clearly involved and invested in your campaign. Take it a step further and consider factors like the causes they back and, if they align with your priorities, name it!

Use Numero’s contact codes to search your entire database for common causes between your donors and your campaign. An example might be a contact code of “Moms Demand Action” so you know this is a donor that cares about gun violence prevention. You can use the groups that they are members of, where else they volunteer, etc. as a way to make sure every conversation is personalized.

A Recurring Donation That Matters

Relationship-building is the key to turning a first-time contribution into a recurring donation.  If you successfully integrate these four techniques into your campaign fundraising you’ll be well on your way to building a community of supporters to your cause. And Numero will be here to help you every step of the way.

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