Sound Annual Giving Programs Make Major Gifts Possible
We all want to have development programs that produce gifts at the top of our donor pyramid, but that rarely happens without a broad base of annual support.
For years, experts such as David Barnes and others have been telling us that the number of donors you will have at the top of the Pyramid of Giving tomorrow depends a gret deal on the number of first-time donors you acquire today.
And while we all know that’s true, many don’t put that advice into practice and mail enough pieces or conduct enough e-mail or phone campaigns to build our base of support.
Here are four reasons we sometimes fail:
1. Our plans are short term, stretching no further than our annual evaluation. As a result, we don’t project revenue expenses from acquisition mailings out far enough to show the return on investment that is not just possible but predictable.
2. We don’t advocate for what we know is true: Big gifts come from those who gave modest gifts in prior years.
3. We allow ourselves to become enablers by letting our programs be ruled by immediate needs, causing us to choose “quick fixes” that are of questionable merit. Premiums that often generate a lot of small, non-upgradable donations (such as name-and-address labels) fall into this category.
4. We resent the budget and status of planned- and major-gifts programs.
And here are five ways to overcome our often self-imposed obstacles and succeed:
1. Develop three-, five- and 10-year donor-acquisition plans.
2. Cultivate high-status board members willing to become our annual-giving program advocates.
3. When a major gift is received, track the history of giving and share it with senior management to see the “process” the resulted in the gift.
4. Aggressively support your organization’s major-gift effort with the names of those you think are ready to be asked for more.