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Recruit and Retain Recurring Donors with NationBuilder

Dive into the dynamic world of recurring donor programs with NationBuilder. Learn powerful strategies, from making the ask to personalized donor journeys, equipping donors to shape their experience, and streamlining communication. Our Managing Director of NationBuilder Payments shares how you can revolutionize your fundraising game and build lasting connections with your supporters. 

February 07, 2024
6 min read

Donations are the lifeblood of most nonprofits, whether they’re international advocacy organizations, national political parties, or local charities. Donors themselves are often your most dedicated supporters, stakeholders that you need to maintain a positive relationship with for months or even years. A recurring donor program, sometimes referred to as a monthly or annual giving program, is at the heart of many successful online fundraising strategies. They allow your supporters to become sustainers and make a long term commitment to your organization, deepening your relationship with one another while also providing a stable source of revenue to help you accomplish your mission. 

NationBuilder’s all-in-one suite of tools makes it easy to run a recurring donor program that’s rewarding, both for your organization and your most treasured resource: the people powering your movement. 

1. How to ask for a recurring gift: Just do it

Many organizations considering a recurring donor program become intimidated and don’t know where to start, but the honest answer is… just ask! Asking your supporters to donate to your efforts is a powerful and transformative step, not only for fundraising, but in deepening the relationship between your supporters and your organization. That’s because you’re not just asking for financial support; you’re inviting them to join a shared vision and actively contribute to a cause they care about. It not only opens the door to potential revenue, but also fosters a sense of community and collaboration. 

NationBuilder provides several options for asking your supporters to step up and become sustainers and you can start using them at the click of a button. Donor acquisition has never been easier. 

  • Give your new donors the option of making either a one-time or monthly gift on all of your standard donation forms. By giving any donor the option of becoming a sustainer, you’ll invite your supporters to deepen their commitment to your cause. 
  • Consider running regular, sustainer-focused fundraising campaigns with a monthly donation ask. Contact your donor base regularly, educate them about recent successes and your long term goals, and invite them to power your movement by becoming a sustainer.
  • Use a donation webpage with a recurring gift ask the thank you webpage action-takers and one-time donors see after they hit submit. Emphasize impact by sharing success stories and give clear examples of recurring donations made those successes possible. 
  • Offer memberships using annual recurring donations. Some of NationBuilder’s most successful fundraisers use such recurring gifts as a means of offering memberships to their supporters. 

You may notice that all four of the different approaches to donor acquisition listed above use the same Donate page to support very different approaches. That’s possible because NationBuilder’s donation forms are highly-customizable and can be tailored not only to your organization’s needs, brand, and strategy but also to the needs of your supporters.

2. Personalize the donor journey

Writers – whether they produce books, blogs, email and text messages, or social media posts – need to keep their audience in mind. Diverse audiences bring varying interests, comprehension levels, and communication preferences to the table. By learning about your audience, you gain the ability to fine tune your fundraising asks, ensuring they resonate with the unique interests and priorities held by different segments of your supporters.

With NationBuilder’s email targeting features, you can take it one step further and choose the audience that receives your fundraising messages and tailor your ask to their unique needs and interests. This can raise your conversion rate, increase your donation amounts, and improve donor retention.

  • Add tags to denote issue areas, specific campaigns, volunteers, actions taken, or other attributes when you set up new pages on NationBuilder. Those tags will be added to your supporters’ People profiles.
  • Are you wary of asking all of your supporters to become sustainers? Then don’t! You can use filters to target your audience so your message is only received by supporters who have a given tag or tags on their profile. They could be prior donors, supporters interested in a particular topic, live in a specific location, have volunteered, or have a combination of such characteristics. 

By personalizing the donor journey you can ensure that you’re meeting your supporters where they are and speaking to their specific concerns. This personalized approach is not only beneficial for attracting new donors but also plays a crucial role in donor retention. And NationBuilder’s tools are fully-integrated with one another; your donors are added directly to your CRM, so there’s no need for complex, expensive integrations with other tools in order to do the kind of precision targeting described above. This not only saves you time and money, it frees you to focus on what really matters: accomplishing your mission.

3. Let your donors shape their own giving experience

Being responsive to current donor requests, such as updating their credit card or canceling a recurring donation, is incredibly important for maintaining your supporters’ trust and respect. At the same time, many nonprofits have a small staff with a lot of work to do. That’s where NationBuilder’s supporter portal comes in.


  • The Supporter Portal lets supporters in your donor database see their active recurring donations and memberships, update the payment method on file for any recurring donation processed by NationBuilder Payments, or cancel their recurring donation or membership.
  • Add a link to your supporter portal to your recurring donation receipts and similar messages so your supporters know that it’s there and can find it when they need to. 
  • Consider adding a login button to your homepage or site header and footer so that it’s easy to find. 

Making a donation is a statement of trust: your donors support you because they trust you and value the work you’re doing in the world. By equipping your donor base to manage their own donations you can not only reduce staff overhead, but also demonstrate your commitment to your supporters and build trust with this most important constituency. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the key to long term donor retention and fundraising success. Check out this video to learn more about the Supporter Portal:

4. Streamline your communication for effective donor engagement 

Save time and your manual efforts with NationBuilder's automations. They're an essential tool for fundraising campaigns because they not only save time and resources but also allows organizations to maintain consistent communication with donors, leading to increased retention rates and long-term support.

NationBuilder automations let you schedule messages to supporters who’ve taken specific actions. As such, they provide a powerful means of reducing your staff overhead while ensuring that your supporters receive important, timely information about their recurring gifts and new opportunities to deepen their commitment. 

  • Add a welcome series for new sustainers that introduces them to the supporter portal.
  • Send an automated message to your sustainers if their payment method fails and needs to be updated. This is critical for donor retention rates and NationBuilder makes it easy.
  • Send evergreen recurring donation requests to new supporters on a given timetable or after they make their first one-time donation.  

And all of this is just the beginning! As you may have noticed, most of the features described above aren’t specific to donations and fundraising, just as donations and fundraising aren’t the only thing that your organization does. Accomplishing your mission requires more than that, and that’s why NationBuilder was designed to provide many powerful tools that are all connected and work well with each other. 

From making the ask and personalizing the donor journey to equipping donors to shape their giving experience and streamlining communication, each step contributes helps build a comprehensive approach for sustained fundraising success. As you consider strategies to recruit new monthly donors, remember that our dedicated team at NationBuilder is here to support you every step of the way. For more tips on how to execute a successful monthly giving program, we invite you to connect with us through a live demo, and let's work together to unlock the potential of your fundraising initiatives. 

Pete Welsch

Pete Welsch

Managing Director, Payments @ NationBuilder. Digital strategy, online organizing, music, and culture. Obama White House, 2011-2014. DNC, 2009-2011.

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