What Does The Typical Recurring Donor Look Like?

typical recurring donor

This just in! 

Monthly donor statistics are hard to come by, so I was excited when Bloomerang ran some top line statistics for the organizations they serve. They looked at almost 300,000 monthly gifts generating more than $15,000,000 a year. 

Of course, everything was totally confidential, so we’re just looking at averages here but let’s look at some very exciting key findings: 

  • The average monthly gift is $51 for credit cards and $60 for those given by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), from donor’s bank accounts. 
  • 7.5% of donations and 0.75% of revenue received in 2018 were recurring gift payments.
  • 73% of recurring gift payments were monthly credit card payments.
  • Religion and International Affairs are the two sectors with the highest # of recurring gifts per organization.
  • The Education sector has the largest average recurring gift size ($71.76) and the Environment and Animals sector has the lowest ($33.35).
  • Organizations with file sizes of 40,000 records or more had on average 3% of their donations come from monthly gifts. Mid-size customers (15,000 to 25,000 records had the largest share of their donations come from monthly gifts (9%).

WOW. These statistics are tremendous! 

Earlier studies published showed that monthly gifts were on average between $23 and $36 a month, so these Bloomerang organizations are doing better than ever before! 

Just think, $51 a month means $612 a year. And $60 a month via EFT/ACH/Direct Debit/Automatic Bank withdrawal means the highest retention possible and even more money, $720 a year! 

Here is an overview of how those average monthly gifts break out by type of organization: 

Type of organizationAverage monthly gift size
Arts, Culture, and Humanities$44.68
Education$71.76
Environment and Animals$33.35
Health$66.86
Human Services$66.61
International, Foreign Affairs$60.90
Miscellaneous$52.70
Public, Societal Benefit$46.48
Religion Related$59.42
(blank)$63.61
Grand Total$58.30


It certainly doesn’t hurt that Adrian Sargeant, Jay Love, Tom Ahern,
 Steven Shattuck and many others have all been pushing for monthly giving as part of the overall donor retention focus. It’s clearly working!

typical recurring donor

As you can see, smaller organizations tend to have slightly higher percentages of their donors giving monthly, but that means there’s even bigger potential for organizations with donor bases of more than 40,000 names. Just think of the impact if they could grow their monthly donors to 5% or even to 9% of all donors. Also, in the past not all types of organizations had monthly givers, now all types of organizations are represented. 

If you look at the percentage of gifts that comes in from the typical recurring donor, that still has a way to grow! Less than 1% of revenue came from monthly gifts. 

If you look at organizations that have been focused on monthly giving for a while, they’re seeing higher revenue from monthly donors overall and higher percentages?. What would happen if you could double what you have now? You could only go up, right? 

There are five ways to grow your monthly donor revenue: 

  1. Generate more monthly donors. Have a monthly giving button in every email and enewsletter for example. 
  2. Keep your monthly donors so the ones you’re generating are indeed helping your program grow.
  3. Consider an extra gift ask in a very special grateful way and you’ll keep more of them and generate more money from them. (One study shows that 6% of monthly donors make at least one extra gift a year, some make even more).  
  4. Upgrade your existing monthly donors to higher levels with a special upgrade ask. (One study shows that you can upgrade 12% of your monthly donors). 
  5. Convert your monthly donors to EFT/ACH/Direct Debit/automatic withdrawal. You’ll save some money and you’ll retain your donors better. 

I’ll post more about these 5 ways in a later blog. 

So, how does your organization compare? And what are you doing to grow your program? Can you take an hour a week to work on your program? What would happen if you did? Are you ready to try it? 

Bloomerang has been publishing webinars and blogs on monthly giving for years. Here’s a quick overview of some of these tremendous resources. Take just an hour to check them out and you’ll be ready to roll. And if you’d like a simple road map and other resources, just download it here. 

You can make 2020 be the year where you’ll get serious about growing your monthly donor program, using the tools you already have in place (your donor base and your online payment process). 

I can guarantee you’ll be looking back on it with great satisfaction and higher retention rates and hindsight will be more than 20/20. 

If you ask me, these statistics are some serious monthly donor motivators! So, what’s your new year’s resolution for your fundraising and especially your monthly donor program going to be?  

Erica Waasdorp
Erica Waasdorp is President of A Direct Solution, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Erica lives and breathes direct response and fundraising and can be considered a Philanthropyholic. Erica published "Monthly Giving." "The Sleeping Giant," the "Monthly Donor Road Map" and many other resources on Monthly Giving. She blogs, presents in person and via webinars and she helps her clients with appeals, direct mail and monthly giving. She is a Master Trainer for the Association of Fundraising Professionals and she was the US Ambassador for the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) and she has planned numerous conferences and workshops. Erica loves traveling with her husband, playing golf, dancing, reading, barre classes and more. They have a little tuxedo cat Mientje, two boys and three grandkids.
By |2020-01-30T17:08:05-05:00January 31st, 2020|Donor Retention, Monthly Giving|

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