Building Your Recurring Donor Program
In this article:
1. Getting to know your recurring settings
2. Customizing your recurring ask
3. Sending your ask to supporters
4. Analyzing your recurring contributions
5. Supporting donors who have recurring contributions
Getting to Know Your Recurring Settings
Any contribution form you make on ActBlue can accept recurring donations! Here’s how to get started setting up your recurring program:
Step 1: Create a new contribution form by clicking on “Create form” in the upper-left corner of your Dashboard Overview. Or you can navigate to a form you already made before by searching for it in the Contribution Forms tab of your Dashboard toolbar. Once you’ve located your form, click the “Edit” button.
Step 2: This will open your form and the form editor! If you just created a form, you will also be brought to the form editor. Select the “Recurring settings” tab in the form editor.
Step 3: By default, your form will be set up to accept unlimited monthly contributions. It will also automatically use pop-up recurring asks with a threshold of $101. This means that after a supporter gives a one-time contribution that is less than $101, a pop-up will appear asking them if they'd like to make their donation a recurring one. You can easily change both of these settings!
Customizing Your Recurring Ask
To change the pop-up ask threshold, enter a different dollar amount in the “Pop-up recurring ask threshold” box. To turn off pop-up recurring asks, you can leave this box blank or choose “Disabled” in the “Monthly recurring donations” dropdown.
Instead of unlimited monthly contributions, which can recur as long as a donor wants to remain a monthly supporter, you can choose a different setting in the “Monthly recurring donations” dropdown.
You can choose to ask for monthly contributions that recur for a specified amount of time by clicking “Specified duration.”
There are also two pop-up choices which use Smart Recurring: Smart Suggestion and Smart Options. Clicking “Unlimited + Smart Suggestion” will present donors with a pop-up that prompts them to commit to a smaller monthly contribution after they’ve given a one-time donation. Clicking “Unlimited + Smart Options” will present donors with a pop-up that suggests multiple lower monthly donation amounts and gives donors the option to set their own amount.
Make sure you click on the green “Publish” button to save any changes you make!
Sending Your Ask to Supporters
Now you’re ready to send out a fundraising email that links to your contribution form! You’ll want to specifically ask for a recurring contribution in your email and make sure you preset the links for recurring contributions.
It's easy to preset your links for recurring. If you’ve set the form to use unlimited monthly contributions as suggested above, you can do this by clicking on "More" at the top of your form, and then selecting "Promote" from the dropdown.
Now you'll see a pop-up where you can preset recurring by entering "1" in the "Recurring" box. If you’ve set the form to use a specified duration of monthly contributions, write in the number of months you'd like recurring donations to continue. The URL link at the top of this pop-up is the link you should share with your supporters!
When you write your fundraising email, make sure you are specifically asking your supporters for a recurring contribution! Your fundraising ask can say something like: “Can you chip in $10 a month?” If you’re using ActBlue Express Lane, your link or button should say: “Express Donate: $10 a month.” You can read more about ActBlue Express Lane here! Donors can always choose to give a one-time donation instead of a recurring contribution when they land on your form, but it’s impactful when you make giving a recurring donation frictionless for your supporters!
You can also explain to your supporters why a sustained commitment is needed when you ask for a monthly donation! If your organization is planning a series of big events over the next year, let donors know how important their recurring gifts are in driving your work.
Analyzing Your Recurring Contributions
Your campaign or organization will be able to see who made a recurring contribution in the detailed contribution list and CSV file of all contributions for each contribution form. You can find these tools by clicking the "Stats" button in the form navigation bar (form navbar) when previewing your form.
On your form's Statistics page, click the "Additional tools" dropdown to find the list of detailed contributions or download a CSV of all contributions.
You can also see who made a recurring donation by searching for a specific contribution in the Contributions Search tab in your Dashboard toolbar.
You’ll see a note that the contribution will recur each month, along with the one-time contribution amount.
Supporting Donors Who Have Recurring Contributions
Email receipts will automatically go out to all recurring contributors when their donation is processed. These receipts contain a link that allows donors to alter the number of months of their contribution, cancel it completely, or update their credit card information. While the dollar amount of a recurring contribution cannot be altered, they can be cancelled at any point in time!
ActBlue’s integration with Account Updater automatically updates most expired or lost donor credit cards in our system, preventing lost contributions. However, occasionally credit cards will still be declined. In this case, we send an automatic email letting the donor know that they were not charged and that they should update their information. If a donor does not update their card, they will not be charged that month, but we’ll attempt to process the contribution again the next month.
Many donors will opt to email ActBlue instead of making a change through their receipt. In that case we’re happy to take care of these tasks for them. If your donors contact you with questions about their recurring contribution, you can forward them to us at email@example.com. We have an incredible Customer Service Team that makes every effort to get back to donors during the same business day.
Finally, make sure to follow up with your recurring donors to thank them for their monthly support and keep them updated on your work. If you go to the Settings tab in the "Admin" section of your Dashboard menu, you can scroll down and find the "Blurbs, Disclaimers and Tracking Codes" dropdown. Click on "Blurbs, Disclaimers, and Tracking Codes" to find the "Recurring Email Messages" fields.
In the "Recurring email blurb" box, write the message you'd like recurring donors to see in their automatic donation receipt after giving a monthly contribution. Then scroll down and click "Save changes" to make sure your settings are saved!
Donors have the option of cancelling their recurring donations, but we find that upwards of 80% of the money from these recurring commitments comes in! That has a lot to do with the relationships you build with supporters and how you engage and value them.
In the “Recurring settings” tab, you can also write a custom, static recurring pitch for your contribution form or offer a free gift to supporters who choose to make a monthly donation. You can learn more about our full set of recurring tools here.