The Basics of Segmenting Donors for Recurring Gift Appeals

The benefits of stewarding recurring donors are enormous:

  • Recurring gifts increase annual income by converting small one-time gifts into ongoing contributions
  • Recurring gifts help your organization attain predictable income so you can focus more on long-term programming and worry less about cash flow
  • Recurring gifts improve donor retention – for example, monthly donors give for five to seven years, instead of just once and then not again at all
  • Recurring gifts mean sending fewer solicitations, and online recurring gifts means no postage at all, helping you save on fundraising costs

So how do charities steward recurring donors? One of the most common tactics is segment contacts to learn which supporters are non-donors or only one-time donors. Then, send targeted communications and donation forms to inspire these supporters to become recurring donors.

To help you boost your revenue and improve donor retention, we’ll show you the three steps to create a segment in the DMS that will help you steward and retain recurring donors.

Plus, to help you cultivate even more recurring donors, CanadaHelps is launching Make It Monthly 2023! In March 2023, CanadaHelps will make a one-time extra $20 donation for every new monthly gift of $20 or more made to your charity using CanadaHelps.*

Table of Contents

1. Start With an “All Subscribers” Smart Group

If you haven’t created a Smart Group before, these are dynamic lists of Contacts that are automatically updated based on set criteria. You can set the criteria while performing an Advanced Search in the Contacts tab. Click this link to learn more about Groups and Smart Groups.

Before we create a segment to steward donors for recurring gifts specifically, you first need to start with an All Subscribers Smart Group.

The All Subscribers Smart Group is one of the most useful segments to keep in your toolkit. Remember, not every contact may want to receive emails from your organization. Creating this Smart Group will help you keep an automated email list of all supporters interested in receiving emails from your charity. This general list is great for newsletters, announcements, campaign launches, fundraising goal celebrations, and other major updates.

Here’s how to create an All Subscribers Smart Group in the DMS.

One more thing to keep in mind here is even though it’s a general list of all subscribers, sending recurring gift appeals with this email list is still an effective way to attract new recurring donors. A common reason supporters become recurring donors is simply that they were asked! So be sure to ask when you send newsletters and other bulk emails to your All Subscribers Smart Group. Below is an example of a monthly gift appeal Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) added to their newsletter, which they built with the DMS email tool by the way!

In Step 2, we’ll show you how to segment donors who make recurring donations using this All Subscribers Smart Group.

2. Create a “Recurring Donors” Smart Group

The Recurring Donors Smart Group is another valuable segment to have in your toolkit. Use this segment to send targeted emails just for donors who regularly provide recurring gifts.

As you may have read in our monthly giving email course, an effective method to retain recurring donors is by making them feel like heroes. So use this email list to send special thank-yous to your recurring donors.

Form example, with this Smart Group you could:

  • Send exclusive emails that inform recurring donors specifically how their monthly donations are making a difference
  • Ask your recurring donors how it makes them feel to be a recurring donor and why they give recurrently, and then feature their inspirational stories in email newsletters
  • Consistently thank, encourage, and showing the impact recurring donors make will help them stay committed as well!

Here’s how to create a Recurring Donors Smart Group in the DMS.

Now, you have two new useful segments for bulk and targeted messages. But did you know you can also use the same Groups and Smart Groups to exclude a segment in your communications? In marketing, we call these suppression lists

In Step 3, we’ll show you to use the Recurring Donors as a suppression list to target one-time and non-donors for your recurring gift appeals.

3. Using Suppression Lists to Send Recurring Gift Appeals

Using a suppression list is the creative tactic of excluding a Group or Smart Group from a bulk email so only a specific segment of your contacts receive the targeted email.

To help you understand how suppression lists work, look at the diagram below to learn about the thought process behind using the two Smart Groups we just built in the steps above to send targeted recurring gift appeals.

Essentially, the contacts in a suppression list are subtracted from the initial email list.

Here’s how to suppress the Recurring Donors Smart Group in the DMS to email a targeted recurring gift appeal to non-donors and one-time donors.

By the way, if you’re not sure what to write to your supporters in your recurring donation appeal, we have some great Make It Monthly email templates to help you attract new monthly donors to your cause.

Final Thoughts

You now have everything you need to inspire your supporters to become recurring donors! All it takes is a few clicks to create an All Subscribers Smart Group, where you’ll have the opportunity to add recurring donation appeals in your newsletters and other general bulk emails. By creating a Recurring Donors Smart Group, you can send special thank-yous and other exclusive communications to help retain your recurring donors. With both of these Smart Groups, you can use the suppression list function in the DMS to send targeted recurring gift appeals to non-donors and one-time donors. Best yet, if you need help crafting an email to inspire your supporters to become recurring donors, we have email templates for you to copy and paste into the DMS email tool!

Sign in to your DMS now to get started!

*Make It Monthly 2023 $20 Offer is valid for new scheduled monthly donations of a minimum of $20 per month beginning March 1st, 2023 at 12:01 AM Newfoundland Standard Time (NST) to March 31st, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST). CanadaHelps will donate an additional $20 for each new monthly donation of $20 or more that is made three times before June 2, 2023, to a maximum aggregate amount of $50,000 CAD. See full terms and conditions:

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