Thanking monthly donors is the best way your nonprofit can ensure they continue to give. According to research, recurring donors give 42% more per year than one-time donors. Because of the nature of their gifts and the value of recurring donors, it is important to have a unique acknowledgment process for this group.
The recurring donor thank you process is different than your standard acknowledgment process. We will cover everything you need to know about thanking monthly donors.
What are Recurring Donors?
Recurring donors are donors who give to your organization at a set frequency. Generally, recurring donors will give monthly. Most recurring gifts are made online and the credit card processor (for DonorSnap users it is goEmerchant) will charge the donor monthly and automatically deposit the gifts into your nonprofit’s account. Recurring donors can choose an end date for their recurring gifts, or have them be ongoing.
Do you Need to Thank Monthly Donors After Every Gift?
If you have a thoughtful acknowledgment process for your monthly donors you don’t need to send them a thank you letter every month. Some nonprofits do send an acknowledgment letter every month after a gift is made, but it is more valuable to find creative ways to thank your recurring donors throughout the year.
Regardless of what you choose to do, the most important thing is to let your donors know what to expect. If you will not be sending them a thank you letter monthly, let them know that is your process. If you will only be sending a year-end tax statement, let them know when they can expect it.
When donors sign up for recurring gifts through DonorSnap, you have the option to send a monthly confirmation email that lets them know their card was processed. It is up to you if you want these emails to be sent. Please note, these confirmation emails are not acknowledgment letters.
Should You Email or Print Monthly Donor Thank You Letters?
When it comes time to send an acknowledgment letter to your donors, you may be wondering if you should print them or email them. There are pros and cons to both options. Printing your letters is more time-consuming and costly, however many people love the personalized feel of getting a letter in the mail. In addition, when it comes to tax preparation having a printed copy of your acknowledgment letters is convenient for your donors.
Email marketing is a much faster and more efficient way to thank your donors. Through DonorSnap you can generate emails with PDF letters attached to them. If someone makes a donation online, it is safe to assume you can thank them digitally. However, when sending out year-end contribution statements it may be beneficial for your donors to have a print copy. If you chose to email your year-end tax statements, DonorSnap can email a PDF of that as well.
Best Practices for Thanking Monthly Donors
When thanking your monthly donors, you should follow the standard best practices for thanking your donors. However, thanking your monthly donors requires some changes and additions to your regular acknowledgment process. Understanding the unique nature of these gifts and how your communication schedule will differ is vital to the success of retaining your monthly donors. Keep reading for best practices for thanking your monthly donors.
Monthly Donors Should Receive an Immediate Thank You
When someone becomes a monthly donor they will usually do so through an online form. If you have set up a unique form to collect recurring donations (recommended), then the thank you page and confirmation email are the first pieces of communication the donor will receive from your organization. (Please note: These are not the donor acknowledgment letters, but just an immediate confirmation and thank you)
What to Include in Monthly Donor Thank You Page & Confirmation Email
- Let them know the gift was received and that you are grateful
- Tell them when they can expect a formal acknowledgment letter
- Leave contact information in case they have any questions
- Include links to your social channels in case they want to follow you
Develop a Really Good Initial Acknowledgment Letter for Thanking Monthly Donors
When someone first signs up as a recurring or monthly donor, your nonprofit should send them a really nice initial acknowledgment letter. You should create a different template for this letter than your standard acknowledgment letter. (Hint: You can easily create batches in DonorSnap to segment your thank you letters.)
You should include the following elements in your initial thank you letter to recurring donors:
- Details of the gift
- Impact of monthly gifts
- Additional benefits of monthly gifts
- What they can expect from you
- A contact for recurring donors
- Anything special for being a monthly donor
Details of the Gift
The recurring donor thank you letters should be customized to thank people for signing up for monthly gifts. In every thank you letter you should include details of the gift. In a recurring donation thank you letter you should include the gift amount, the frequency of the gift, and the end date if they had set one.
Impact of monthly gifts
Showing impact is the most powerful way to thank someone for their donation. In your monthly donor thank you letters, you should tell them exactly how their monthly gifts will make a difference. You should be as specific as you can, for example, “Your gift of $20 a month will secure an entire month of food for a puppy in our shelter.”
Additional benefits of monthly gifts
In addition to the impact of the monthly gift, you can go one step further and tell the donors additional benefits of monthly gifts. For example, how they will provide consistent funding to your organization, save admin time and costs, and prevent waste.
What they can expect from you
When someone is willing to make monthly gifts to your organization it is very important for them to trust you. One of the ways you can build trust is to let them know exactly what to expect from you and then to deliver on that. If you will be sending a year-end tax receipt in January as opposed to monthly acknowledgment letters, be sure to clearly state this in your thank you letter.
A contact for recurring donors
All donors should know how to contact your organization. This is especially important for monthly donors since they may want to make changes to their donations at a certain point. Let them know the name and contact information of the person who handles recurring gifts.
Anything special for being a monthly donor
The last thing you should include in your recurring donor acknowledgment letters is if they will receive anything special for being a monthly donor. This could include a special gift, access to certain materials, or a monthly newsletter specifically for recurring donors.
Maintain Consistent Communication with Recurring Donors
You want to stay in regular contact with your monthly donors. As mentioned before, you don’t need to be sending them the same thank you letter every month, but find ways you can stay in touch with them and also deliver impact. Having a monthly or quarterly newsletter specifically for monthly donors is a great way to do this. You can highlight specifics of where the monthly gifts are going and share any relevant updates or stories with your audience.
You should also think about thoughtful ways you can thank your monthly donors beyond the acknowledgment letters and year-end tax statements. This could include handwritten notes from board members, a video showing the impact of their gifts, or a special thank you event for monthly donors. It never hurts to thank donors as much as you can, and more variety will have a bigger impact.
Thanking your monthly donors is different than your standard acknowledgment process. You should have a thank you letter template specifically written for monthly gifts. This thank you letter should include the gift details, the impact of monthly gifts, additional benefits of the gifts, what the donors can expect from you, and a contact person in case they need to make changes to their gifts.
You do not need to thank your monthly donors after every gift, although you have the option to send monthly receipts from DonorSnap. If you are not thanking the donors after every gift, it is still important to maintain regular communication with your monthly donors and find creative ways to thank them often throughout the year.
BONUS: Recurring Donor Thank You Letter Sample
Dear [First Name],
Thank you so much for becoming a [frequency] donor to [organizations name]. Your generous gift of [gift amount] a month will have a substantially positive impact on our organization.
Recurring gifts are such an important part of keeping our mission afloat. Thanks to your generous gift [describe a specific way their donation will help your organization]. In addition, becoming a monthly donor helps us [additional benefits of monthly donations].
We are immensely grateful for your support. [Let them know what to expect for acknowledgments. Monthly receipts or a year-end tax contribution statement]. If you have any questions or need to make changes to your recurring donation please contact [contact information of the person who handles recurring gifts].
As a recurring donor, you will now have exclusive access to our quarterly newsletter that will show you all the ways your donation is making a difference. Thank you again for your generous support and we look forward to everything we can accomplish together.
PS: [Include an invite to an event or ask them to follow you on social media]
[IRS tax requirements if applicable]