I LOVE MONTHLY DONORS

Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash

Who doesn’t love a monthly donor? 

These loyal supporters are the pillars of solid, progressive fundraising programs. They’re retained at an exceptionally high rate of 85-90 percent, compared to an average retention rate of 45 percent for all donors, according to the 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report. And they stay longer – between five and seven years. 

So, how do you get more monthly donors? If you’re just starting out, check out my post 6 Ways to Get More Online Monthly Donors

And here’s a 7th way, one that’s quietly, steadily boosting online monthly donor recruiting for nonprofits that try it. 

The Upsell Lightbox

Website lightboxes, also known as popups, display a box that floats on top of the web page, dimming out the rest of the content. 

We’ve all experienced them. And love them or loathe them, they work. (SEE: After-Action Pop-Ups: The Secret to Getting Gifts From Your Online Advocates)

NOTE: If you use lightboxes of any sort, don’t run afoul of Google’s rules

The upsell monthly donor lighbox appears after a donor has completed some portion of your online donation form. The lightbox invites donors to convert their one time gift into a monthly pledge, and there is always a “no thanks” option for donors who want to complete their single donation. 

Here are a few examples: 

Alaska Wilderness League (h/t Blake Mizelle, Longleaf Digital)

Alaska Wilderness League upsell lightbox example

Humane Society International (h/t Sarah Ali, Digital Strategist, Grassriots, Inc.)

Humane Society International upsell lightbox

Middle Collegiate Church (h/t Jon Wheeler, Partner, PowerThru Consulting)

Middle Collegiate Church upsell lightbox

No Kid Hungry (Source: blog post

No Kid Hungry upsell lightbox

And Now, the Questions

I’ve got a monthly giving check box on my donation form. Isn’t that enough?
Check boxes are easily overlooked. Lightboxes grab attention. There’s no reason you cannot use BOTH a check box and a lightbox to encourage monthly giving. 

Will the lightbox frighten off single-gift donors? 
In my experience and conversations with other fundraisers, the answer is no. People are quite used to swatting away a lightbox in which they aren’t interested and continuing on with their task. 

What kind of results can I expect?
Like most things in fundraising, you’re mileage may vary. I’ve seen anywhere from 2.5 percent to 28 percent more monthly donors recruited with a monthly upsell lightbox. That’s quite the range! There’s a lot to experiment with, from creative to timing to the offer. For example, will you use the lightbox every month, or only during high-traffic campaigns?  

Things to Consider

Should my nonprofit try it? 
Are you getting a decent number of online donations in a year (1000+)? If so, consider testing the upsell lightbox. If you only process a few dozen or hundred online donations, it’s not worth the tech and time investment. 

And, do you have a strong monthly giving program in place? If not, you’re better off investing in getting a monthly giving program off the ground. 

Where to put the popup?
Don’t deploy the popup too soon. Give the donor the opportunity to fill out most of your donation form, but trigger the popup before the donation is completed. 

Which donation levels get the popup? 
Depending on your online gift string, trigger the lightbox for gifts at the $20 or higher level, but be sure to turn it off for the higher gift levels ($500 or $1,000+) where monthly giving is unlikely. 

What kind of monthly offer should the donor get? 
Propose a monthly gift amount based on a rule or an algorithm based on the single gift amount the donor selects. For example, if the donor selects a $20 donation, you might invite her to join your monthly giving program at the $5/month level ($60/year). A $100 donor might get a $15/month offer ($150/year). Never propose a monthly amount that would end up being less than the single gift amount the donor chose. And always allow the donor to put in her own monthly gift amount. 

Make sure you measure. 
What gets measured gets improved. To measure the effectiveness of your upsell lightbox, be sure to track the before-and-after page complete rate, number of monthly donors recruited each month, and average monthly gift amount for new monthly donors. 


Have you tried an upsell lightbox? Or did you respond to an upsell during your own single-gift donation? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below.

Published On: July 31, 2018|Categories: Fundraising, Nonprofit Communications|

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