What A Difference A Year Can Make

Posted on 10/12/2016 - by Dan Allenby

hour-glassWith a name like annual giving, it should come as no surprise that the concept of “year” is an important one to those who work the field. In fact, there are even a lot of ways to use this measure to benefit your program.

One of the most useful functions of a “year” is that it provides a clear deadline. It offers a 365-day timeline – with a defined starting and ending point – between which goals are set and work is done, in order to secure as many donors and as much support as possible. Deadlines, in and of themselves, can be motivating both internally for staff and externally for volunteers and donors.

Take it a step further. The significance of “years” can help annual giving programs connect with and inspire donors. Anniversaries are a good example. Celebrating the number of years that have elapsed since graduation is the very basis for reunion and class gift fundraising – a primary driver of annual fund donors and dollars for many educational institutions.

But even if your institution doesn’t have a formal class reunion program or hold reunion events on campus, there’s still an opportunity to leverage graduation milestones to raise funds. Simply reminding alumni that they have reached a significant milestone can evoke feelings of nostalgia, which can then yield higher response rates when used as part of a solicitation. In honor of the 25 years that have elapsed since your graduation, would you consider joining our leadership gift society?

Anniversaries can also be applied to past giving. Colorado State University wishes donors a “Happy Anniversary” by sending emails letting donors knows that they made their gifts “one year ago this week.” This tactic not only serves as a belated “thank you,” but it’s also a friendly reminder that it’s time to renew one’s annual support.

happy-anniversary_colorado-state

Some programs use this same tactic to solicit lapsed donors. While annual fund staff tend to be hyper-aware of fiscal year timelines, many donors are not as cognizant. Don’t be surprised if a lapsed donor thinks their giving is current when it’s not. Did you know that your last gift was 3 years ago this week? Please give today and get counted again!

And there are many other ways to make the most of “years” in annual giving, too. Nearly 75 percent of education institutions today have decided to designate a single day – once each year – to celebrate and encourage giving to their institution. More than half of annual giving programs report having a gift society or loyal donor program to recognize the number of years that a donor has given consecutively or cumulatively in the past.

The list of opportunities seems to go on and on, but one thing is for sure: in annual giving, recognizing a “year” can really make a difference.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Increasing Donor Retention.