Maximize Monthly Giving with Nonprofit Data Analytics

October 30, 2023

According to the latest M+R Benchmarks Study, monthly giving increased by 11% in 2022, making up 28% of all online revenue. Even as overall giving slumps, this increase is significant because it means that more organizations are receiving reliable funding on a monthly basis. To take advantage of this trend toward recurring giving, your nonprofit will need to look inward at its donor data.

Your data can reveal hints about donors’ giving preferences, giving capacity, willingness to give, and the reasons why they support your cause. In this guide, we’ll explore how you can to leverage this data and grow your monthly giving program:

  • Determine your objectives.
  • Understand donors’ giving behaviors.
  • Monitor data and adjust your appeals.

Before you begin any project involving data analysis, start by clearly outlining your goal so you know which metrics to analyze. First, we’ll cover how to determine your goals for your monthly giving program.

Determine your objectives.

When laying out your goal, consider following the SMART model for goal setting. Under this framework, your nonprofit would create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

For example, let’s say you want to increase the total number of supporters enrolled in your monthly giving program. Here’s how you might apply the SMART model to this objective:

  • Specific: Lay out a specific goal you want to accomplish, like attracting a certain number of donors. Next, specify exactly how you will achieve the goal (e.g., having your marketing team launch a new campaign and explore a different communication channel).
  • Measurable: Set a quantifiable target for the goal, such as increasing the number of monthly donors by 20%.
  • Achievable: Assess your current resources such as staff, budget, and marketing channels to determine whether your goal is realistic. 
  • Relevant: Confirm that your goal, increasing the number of monthly donors, and how you plan to pursue it align with your organizational goals, fundraising priorities, and mission.
  • Time-Bound: Give your team a deadline. For example, you want to grow your monthly giving program by 20% by the end of the fiscal year.

Once you know exactly what you want to achieve, glance over the tools and technology available to your organization. When you have the right technology, you’ll be able to streamline and automate certain tasks to help achieve your goals.

Understand donors’ giving behaviors.

Once you’ve thought through your most important objectives for this project, you’ll need to analyze donors’ giving behaviors. When you know how, when, where, and why your donors give, you can develop customized fundraising appeals that address those behaviors.

Keep in mind that you can grow your program in two main ways: by increasing the amount your current monthly donors give and by recruiting new monthly donors to join the program. These groups require different tactics to persuade them to change their behaviors, and here’s how you can use data about each donor type to increase fundraising:

Existing monthly donors. 

This group consists of donors who are already a part of your sustainer program. In this case, you may aim to upgrade donors to a larger monthly donation. Here’s how you can learn from data about these donors:

  • Average gift size. Determine how much donors contribute via recurring gifts, on average. Organize them into groups based on their gift sizes. For example, perhaps there is a large group of donors giving $25 per month, a smaller group giving $50 per month, and an even smaller one giving $100 per month. Based on these pre-existing groups, you might create formalized giving tiers and urge donors to move up to the next level by boosting their donation amount relative to how much they’re currently giving. For example, you might ask a $50 per month donor to consider giving $60 rather than jumping straight to $100.
  • Communication preferences. Incorporating your donors’ communication preferences into your messages will make them feel more genuine, and you’ll also have a better chance of actually reaching donors. Reference data from past email marketing, social media, and direct mail campaigns to see what percentage of donors responded to and/or converted because of your communications. From there, you’ll have a better idea of how donors prefer to receive communications from your nonprofit.
  • Engagement with content. Analyze which types of content, stories, and communication techniques resonate most with your donors. This will help you better understand their interests and what motivates them to give to your nonprofit. If you run an animal shelter, you might notice that a donor engages with cat-centric content much more often than content about dogs. Going forward, you can shape your appeals to focus on the impact their contributions will make on the cats at your shelter.

Frequently analyzing this data not only tells you more about your current donors’ lifestyles and preferences but also reveals the health of your monthly giving program.

Prospective monthly donors.

Prospective monthly donors may give annual donations or support your organization in other ways, like volunteering. You can shape your engagement strategies using these pieces of information:

  • Giving triggers. A giving trigger is the marketing tactic, event, fundraising appeal, or other form of communication that motivates a donor to give. Once you understand what communication styles typically motivate people to give, weave the benefits of monthly giving into your messages. For example, you might mention the increased convenience and ability to give more over time in your successful social media campaigns.
  • Engagement level. Get a holistic view of prospective donors’ involvement by studying factors like event attendance, time spent volunteering, response rates to emails, whether they are signed up for your newsletters, and so on. Looking at this engagement data will reveal donors who have a strong affinity for your organization, even if they may not donate in large amounts or as often as others. These are excellent candidates for your monthly giving program, even if they only give a small amount.
  • Wealth data. According to GivingDNA’s guide to wealth screening, the typical markers of wealth include real estate ownership, stock holdings, business affiliations, political contributions, and net worth. These markers can help you determine a donor’s capacity to give to your cause, helping you identify which donors to target as major giving candidates. For example, if you know a donor has a high net worth and an extensive real estate portfolio, asking them for a higher monthly contribution will help you avoid leaving money on the table.

As you study your data, look for gaps in your strategy that could cause one-time donors to forgo joining your monthly giving program. Maybe you neglected to promote the program on your social media, or perhaps you forgot to add a “make this gift monthly” option to your donation page.

Monitor data and adjust your approach.

After you implement new strategies, regularly check your monthly giving program’s success metrics. This data should tell you whether your efforts are having a positive impact or need to be adjusted. 

Here are some monthly giving metrics to keep an eye on:

  • Donor acquisition rate
  • Retention rate
  • One-time to recurring donor conversion rate
  • Average monthly gift amount
  • Engagement with marketing efforts
  • Cost per acquisition

To make checking on these metrics easy, practice data hygiene. NPOInfo’s guide to nonprofit data hygiene describes this as “the ongoing procedures and processes involved with keeping a nonprofit’s main database, its constituent relationship management (CRM) system, ‘clean’ or with few errors.” By keeping your data clean, you can ensure that any insights you draw from your file are accurate and up-to-date.

Monthly giving is an essential revenue source for nonprofit organizations. To truly take advantage of your supporters’ desire to regularly contribute to your organization, collect and analyze data that helps you develop appeals and strategies tailored to donors’ passions and preferences. Above all, make your donors feel like they are truly a part of your community by catering to their preferences, personalizing your messages, and expressing your gratitude.

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