There are so many things to love about annual giving. For starters, it’s full of juxtapositions. It’s an art and a science, fundamental and complex, perennial yet always full of surprises.
It’s also easy to love the people who work in annual giving. They’re so often curious, venturesome, and eager to make the world a better place. But how do you show these special people how much you love them? The answer is so simple that even children understand – you tease and annoy them.
Here are 10 ways to annoy an annual giving professional and show him/her how much they mean to you:
- Code all managed prospects “do not solicit”
- Hide the call center headphones
- Forget to use an appeal code
- Don’t fulfill your pledge
- Mail in a credit card gift and leave the expiration date section blank
- Add the President to the appeal seed list
- Call them a “friend-raiser”
- Take vacation during the last week of the fiscal year
- Collate before the ink is dry
- Increase their denominator
The term alum refers to any of various double sulfates of a trivalent metal such as aluminum, chromium, or iron and a univalent metal such as potassium or sodium.
While I imagine that alum may be quite interesting to a chemist, it’s not clear how useful it is to people who work to advance the mission of educational institutions.
On the other hand, an alumnus (male) or alumna (female) is a former student (often a graduate) of a school, college, or university. The term alumnae is used to describe a group of female former students and the term alumni describes a group of male former students or a group of mixed sexes. Typically, alumni are both interesting and useful to education advancement professionals.
Many thanks to Gabe Bolio for sharing this great chart and for understanding that, while words matter, pictures always help.
1.) Tell them what to do.
2.) Give them the tools to do it.
3.) Acknowledge when they’ve done it.
Unfortunately, donors don’t grow on trees. But where do they come from?
According to our 2012 Survey, which assessed the characteristics and trends of annual giving programs at more than 260 nonprofit institutions, 60% of organizations receive the majority of their donors as the result direct mail appeals. This may (or may not) be surprising to many annual giving program managers who have, in recent years, witnessed a decline in prospect contact rates through their call centers and an increasing level of comfort among donors to donate online.
Similarly, 73% of organizations receive the majority of their annual fund revenue from direct mail appeals. This may be due to the common use of direct mail as a cost effective way to renew, reactivate, and upgrade past donors. In contrast, many annual giving programs report that call center and online appeals (i.e., email, social media) can be effective means for acquiring new donors.
Regardless of how your organization compares, it’s important to understand where your donors and dollars are coming from, so that you can make the best decisions about how and where your resources (staff, volunteers, budget) are spent in the future.
To learn more about (or to participate in) this year’s survey of annual giving programs, click here.
Has the unrestricted gift lost luster with donors? This chart suggests that may be the case.
If your annual fund isn’t performing at the level you expect (or need), then it may be time to rethink your strategy. Start by asking a few basic questions:
- Do you only count unrestricted gifts in your fund totals? If so, why?
- Is your approach institutionally-centric or donor-centric?
- Does your case for support highlight generic needs or specific priorities?
- Would your donors be more inclined to provide regular support if they had more control over how their gifts were used?
It may be time to stop stressing the importance of unrestricted gifts and, instead, to encourage donors to support those areas within your organization that matter most to them. It’s really their institution. It’s your job to remind them that their institution can be as great as they want it to be.
Major giving doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes years, often a lifetime, between a donor’s first gift and the time they decide to make and a major philanthropic commitment.
The right fundraising strategy will always depend on the size, scope, and mission of each individual organization as well as the unique characteristics and experiences of its constituents. And while there isn’t any one single set of steps, suite of tools, or timeline to describe the best way to identify, cultivate, and solicit prospects, the this chart suggests a common model.
It also underscores the important role that annual giving plays in the development pipeline. Beginning with prospect identification through research, annual giving programs use a wide array of tools to acquire new donors, encourage loyalty, raise sights, and reward leadership.
Annual Giving isn’t just one part of the development pipeline. It’s many parts. BIG parts.
CASE Conference for Senior Annual Giving Professionals
The field of annual giving has rapidly evolved into something big. While many factors are converging to challenge traditional annual giving programs—new media, information technology and an uncertain economy—they are also providing new lenses through which we can view our industry. This conference will bring those lenses to bear on current trends and best practices. It will give advancement leaders the tools and perspectives they need to design a distinctive and robust annual giving strategy—one that works uniquely well for their unique institution.
Meet the faculty, learn more, and register here.
Benefits of Attending
- Learn proven, effective strategies from knowledgeable faculty with extensive annual giving and development experience.
- Examine current trends and best practices in annual giving.
- Get specific examples from a variety of annual giving programs that can be immediately integrated into programs of all sizes.
- Explore ways to effectively manage relationships with your supervisors and those you manage to enhance teamwork and personal professional growth.
- Network with peers from around the world.
I can still remember my grandmother saying, ”a penny saved is a penny earned.” The phrase has been around since the 17th century when it was first recorded as “a penny spar’d is twice got.”
The truth is that pennies today cost more to produce than their own face value. They are the lowest form of U.S. currency. To some, they’re just worthless clutter in the pocket.
On the other hand, pennies are symbolic. They represent the idea that a lot of little things can add up to something important. They are atoms in the economic universe and, while seemingly insignificant, they do have value.
So, if participation is what you ask from your donors, consider the penny. Suggest gifts that are symbolic. Solicit one penny per grad year from an alum who graduated in 1990 (i.e., $19.90.) or propose that your donors seize the day with a gift of $20.13.
Hundreds of annual giving program leaders have already participated in The Annual Giving Network’s 2013 survey of educational institutions, which will will uncover answers to these questions and more:
- Have educational institutions been increasing or decreasing their investment in annual giving?
- Where are successful annual giving programs putting their resources these days?
- How do your direct mail response rates compare with your peers?
- What return should you expect from your student phonathon?
- How much experience and education does it take to run an annual giving program in 2013?
If you’re in charge of an annual giving program at a college, university, or independent school, then please take a few minutes to complete this quick 25-question survey. All participants will receive a FREE copy of the final report and will be entered for a chance to win a $100 Amex Gift Certificate. Responses will be kept confidential. Participation is limited to one per organization.
To participate, download a copy of the survey by clicking here. Save your answers in the PDF document and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
When Lacie LaRue, Senior Director of Annual Giving at The Oregon State University Foundation, made a list of her program’s priorities last year, she knew that strengthening the major gift pipeline needed to be at the very top. With the university’s first-ever campaign underway, her team needed to begin to raise the sights of OSU’s top annual giving prospects while preparing a new generation of major gift donors.
To accomplish this, OSU partnered with The Perrone Group, a Boston-based direct marketing agency, to develop a customized proposal for current and recently lapsed members of OSU’s gift society (i.e., The President’s Circle.) The goal was to produce a highly personalized piece that stood out in mailboxes and resembled a proposal like those presented to major gift donors. This “special touch”, they hoped, would compel prospects to increase their support.
The direct mail package also contained a cover letter, a full-page response form with suggested gift levels, and a reply envelope. All of the contents were collated with a gold paper clip and inserted in a hand addressed, hand stamped 9×12 booklet envelope. See a copy of the full package here.
The results speak for themselves with an average gift of over $2,000 – a 125% increase over OSU’s other leadership gift appeals. It also helped LaRue and her team reach their direct mail goals five months ahead of schedule. As LaRue says, “This initiative enabled us to upgrade our donors in an accelerated timeline and prepared them to make their first major gift.”