What Should Count?
Inside every annual giving manager lives an accountant. She is confident and diligent, making sure that annual fund gifts and revenue are properly tracked and recorded so that shortfalls can be addressed and successes can be celebrated.
However, if you could crawl inside her head, you might be surprised to discover a tiny speck of doubt. It may be small, but if you look closely you’ll see it. And, if you listen carefully, you might even hear the echo of a doubtful question. What should count?
The truth is that there is no universal definition for annual giving. In fact, our recent study reveals that a wide array of criteria is used by organizations to define their programs. This chart shows how more than 175 different organizations define annual giving.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be thoughtful and strategic about what you count. If unrestricted gifts are what your organization needs from your program, then that’s what you should count. However, if your organization depends on annual giving for something other than what’s being counted (like expendable gifts or alumni participation), then it’s probably a good time to reevaluate your criteria.
Remember, you’ll achieve what you measure.
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