Annual Giving Is Not an Event
An annual giving program is the foundation of a successful fundraising program and for establishing a culture of philanthropy.
Even a small nonprofit should have an annual giving program, providing donors an opportunity each year to invest in your mission and endorse the difference you are making through their gift.
This will come as no surprise to our wonderful regular readers of Bedrocks & Beacons: You also should have an annual giving plan! The length and sophistication of this plan should be tailored to the size and complexity of your organization.
Recently, I was disappointed to see a college at a major university continue to shortchange its fundraising by conducting a “giving day” in lieu of a sophisticated annual giving program. At the end of the day, most of the giving came from board members who had already committed to minimum giving levels.
We have seen nonprofits, both large and small, that have meal-based fundraising events as their major appeals. Events can be effective for sharing a story with a group and introducing people to an organization. However, I’ve never seen a fundraising event that does a good job of retaining donors.
Why would you be asking some of your best friends (including your board members) for a gift through a broad appeal at an event, by email or social media instead of through a personal conversation?
We know that the most effective fundraising is done face to face. This needs to be the core and focus of any annual giving program. Then, it is supplemented by other appeals such as a phone call, text, email, social media, direct mail and special events. Target where your donors are and find the most effective way to reach them. For those with the greatest potential, make the asks increasingly personal and tailor them as much as possible in method and timing to the donor.
An effective annual giving program is not a one-time event; it is a coordinated, yearlong program targeting your various donor constituencies with the most tailored and personal approaches, communication and stewardship possible.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.