With December charitable giving taking a $39.81 billion piece out of the $456.73 billion total in 2014, giving is something that is on the minds of many during the holiday season.[i] Some give to their favorite organizations, some donate in someone else’s name as a gift, and some make a commitment to a monthly giving program.

Many nonprofit Executive Directors and Development Directors have found great opportunity in “sustained giving programs,” (also called, recurring giving or monthly giving programs). Monthly donors have been found to give 42% more in one year than one-time donors.[ii]

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One huge advantage of programs like these is that they provide a reliable source of cash flow, meant to sustain the mission over time. Another advantage is that the funds from these ongoing donations are typically classified as unrestricted revenue and not usually designated for a specific use.[iii]

If you’re already sold on the value of a sustained giving program, one of your next steps is to figure out how to set your nonprofit up to receive and manage these donations. Your recurring giving program will likely become a critical part of your fundraising efforts, so it is important to understand how you will manage it before you implement.

We’ve highlighted three technical elements you should consider as you set your organization up to receive recurring donations.


  1. Determine how people will learn about and sign up for the program.

    • Would you like people to be able to sign up
      • from your website?
      • through a link from your email campaign?
      • in person, at your annual gala or other events?



Tip: Donors are 31% more likely to set up a recurring gift on a branded donation page vs. a generic giving page.[iv]


  1. How will you manage your list of recurring donors?

    • Would you like to keep this list of sustainers
      • in an excel document?
      • in a system you already have in place? (bookkeeping software or database)
      • in a new database that manages custom donor details (keep track of birthdays, and other details to add a personal touch)? [Image]



Tip: Having a way to manage your customer list, based on certain criteria (upcoming birthdays, etc.) is a great way to personalize marketing campaigns through your email marketing service. Learn more about creating a personalized experience for your donors by using information in your database.


  1. How will you keep track or manage expiring cards or other payment hiccups?

    • Would you like to keep track of your recurring cash flow
      • in an excel document?
      • in a system you already have in place? (bookkeeping software or database)
      • in a new database that alerts you when a donor’s payment information is expiring, or when a donor has an anniversary with your program? [Image]



Tip: Being able to stay ahead of cash flow is one of the biggest challenges for any business. If you’d like to learn more about cash flow forecasting, check out this article.


Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be ready to shop for a backend solution for your sustained giving program.

To help you determine the payment acceptance needs of your nonprofit, use our evaluation checklist.


Determining how you’ll implement your sustained giving program and what payment needs go along with that will help you figure out what kind of solution will best support your organization as you continue to diversify and expand your fundraising efforts.


[i] Atlas of Giving 2014

[ii] Network for Good

[iii] npEngage (BlackBaud)

[iv] Network for Good



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