Big River's recurring and installment giving module fully simplifies the deployment and management of a recurring giving program:

  • Recurring gifts can be packaged like other items in Big River, allowing you to align the amount of the gift with its purpose (e.g. '100 meals donated every month').
  • Gifts can be scheduled to pay in installments (e.g. '12 monthly payments').
  • Credit card and direct withdrawal (ACH/EFT) payment methods are supported.
  • Billing is automatically handled nightly by the Big River platform, with no need for you to run batches manually
  • Donor's receive email receipts after every payment, which can be configured to provide timely information, such as upcoming events or current appeals
  • Donor's receive email notification of declined payment, with a link taking them to a self-service form that allows them to easily allows them to update their payment information.
  • Dashboards and reports show you the current progress and value of your recurring giving program.

This guide will walk you through the following:

  • recurring options available on donation items 
  • setup for communications associated with recurring gifts
  • reports available for your recurring program


First thing you need to do is choose the page you want to put a recurring payment

Once you've chosen the appropriate page, you'll click recurrence.

Defining Recurring and Installment Gifts

From the detailed editor for a Donation Item, recurring and installment options are set on the 'Recurrence' tab:

A Donation Item may be one-time, recurring or be paid in installments.  

  • Recurring - the amount of the transaction is charged repeatedly over the future period - for example a $50 recurring monthly payment is charged $50 each month
  • Installments - the amount of the transaction is broken up into payments over the future period - for example a $480 monthly installment payment is charged $40 per month

These options can be pre-defined and fixed on the item, enabling you to 'package' recurring giving options, or show up as prompts for the constituent to decide.  The Recurrence Option controls this:

  • One-time - no recurrence at all, nor options to prompt for it
  • Recurring - the donation item is recurring, with no option for the constituent to change that
  • Installments - the donation item is paid in installments, with no option for the constituent to change that
  • Donor's Choice Recurring - the donor can choose between making the donation one-time or recurring
  • Donor's Choice Installments - the donor can choose between making the donation one-time or paid in installments
  • Donor's Choice Recurring or Installments - the donor can make the donation recurring or installments as they like

Additional options control the recurrence or installment options presented to the user:

  • Prompt text - text presented to the donor if given a choice between one-time and recurring/installments
  • Available periods - frequency of payments that will be presented to the user as options.  If only one is selected, no choice will be presented
  • Term Option - for recurring gifts, whether the term of the gift is unlimited (charges until cancelled), fixed (set number of transactions) or whether the donor is prompted for the number of payments.  Note that installment payments are fixed to pay over a year.
  • Number of Donations - for fixed term, the number of payments in the recurring donation
  • Update Form - a landing page to take the donor to when their payment information (credit card/bank info or address) needs to be changed.
  • Giving Program - a container for the emails that notify the donor of future payments, receipt after payment, or notify them that their future payments are declined
  • Minimum Level to Enable Installments - if set this is the minimum amount for which the installment option will be presented to the donor.  This prevents someone from making too small installment payments.

Combined with the use of fixed or variable price models, this give you infinite flexibility to define recurring and installment gifts that best suit your mission and constituents.

The text on the form, confirmation page and confirmation email automatically communicates the payment options to the donor:

Both recurring donations and installment donations create a Recurring Donation record in the system with the appropriate parameters

From within Big River, you can open a recurring donation record by searching by donor name from the Recurring Giving dashboard.


After the donor makes their first gift, they receive the normal confirmation email you have defined for your form.  Subsequently they receive emails defined in the Giving Program:

  • Notification email - optional email 7 days before their gift, reminding them that they will be charged
  • Confirmation email - email receipt of future gifts.  This can be configured to contain timely information or appeals.
  • Failure email - email they receive if a future gift is declined.  The default content contains a link to a form prompting them to update their payment information.
  • Expiration email - email they receive if their payment method is due to expire soon.  The default content contains a link to a form prompting them to update their payment information.
  • Complete email - email they receive when a fixed recurring or installment term is complete.  This can be used to prompt them to renew their gift.
  • Update Confirmation email - email confirmation they receive after updating a recurring or installment gift payment information.
  • Update prompt email - default content used when sending an update reminder to a donor from within Big River.
  • List email - email sent to the donor with a list of their recurring and installment gifts, which they can ask for from the donation form.

Default content for all these emails are defined as part of your account setup.  You can customize them as you like, using standard Big River email editor and merge fields.

Update Form

When a donor is prompted to update their payment information after a declined charge or when their expiration is upcoming, they are taken to a form that is pre-populated with their contact and gift information.

This form can be configured with items that prompt the donor to upgrade their gift.

Dashboard and Reports

The recurring donations dashboard is accessed from the Transactions menu.

From the list on the left-hand side you can access pre-filtered lists of recurring gifts by status.  There are also links to reports of recurring gifts by status.

Managing Recurring Gifts

You can open the record for a recurring gift from the Recurring Donations dashboard or from within a contact record.

The record shows the status the recurring donation, links to access the donor's contact record, and history of past transactions charged by this recurring donation.

The status of a recurring donation are:

  • Active - donation is recurring and the last payment succeeded
  • Declined - donation is recurring and the last payment failed
  • Suspended - donation is no longer recurring due to more than three consecutive declines
  • Cancelled - donation is no longer recurring by being cancelled from within Big River
  • Inactive - donation is not recurring because it was a test transaction
  • Complete - donation is not recurring because its term completed

From within the recurring donation record you can take actions similar to the automated actions taken by the system and the self-service actions presented to the donor:

  • Update payment - internally update the payment information
  • Public Update Form - open a link to the update form as the donor would see it, or copy the link to send to the donor
  • Send Update Email - send the update email defined in the autoresponders to the donor with a link to the update form
  • Cancel recurring donation - cancel the recurring donation.  Cancelled donations cannot be updated.
  • Suspend recurring donation - suspend the recurring donation.  Suspended donations can be updated within Big River or by the donor via the update form
  • Process now - charge the recurring donation immediately
  • Send reminder email - re-send the most recent reminder email to the donor
  • Send failure email - send the most recent failure email to the donor
  • Send expired email - send the most recent expiration email