AFP Conference Roundup: Best Practices for Annual-Giving Campaigns
Too often, annual-giving campaigns mean making the same request for the same amount to the same donors in the same way at the same time of year, year after year after year. But in her session, "Annual Giving — How to Do It Well … Over and Over and Over Again," at the 46th annual AFP International Conference on Fundraising held in New Orleans two weeks ago, Jill Pranger encouraged attendees to think about annual-giving campaigns as a series of small, focused campaigns that run throughout the year.
Annual-giving campaigns offer opportunities to acquire, renew and upgrade donors; build donor loyalty and commitment; identify and involve leaders; cultivate donors to increase giving levels; identify major gift prospects; and train volunteers, said Pranger, founder and president of Pranger Philanthropic.
One good idea for annual-giving campaigns, Pranger suggested, is having them coincide with "year ends," e.g., calendar year-end, tax year-end, fiscal year-end and "annual fund" year-end. Coinciding the campaign with a "year-end" date is a good strategy because it creates a deadline for donors, which creates a sense of urgency, she said.
And if you're among those who think it's impolite to send multiple annual-giving mailings to donors and prospects who don't respond, Pranger said you're dead wrong. Sending just one wave of the campaign is a waste of money, she says. In fact, she recommended mailing until the cost is higher than the gifts you receive.
"Send that second wave, and you'll be flabbergasted by the results," she said, stressing to make sure that your reply cards are identified as "wave one" and "wave two," etc.
In many cases, it will take four to seven requests before a gift is made, she said. Be creative, with a different look for each mailing. You can use special holidays (like Valentine's Day, Mother's day, Father's day) and occasions ("We've missed you") to try to connect your message with what's going on in donors' lives.