Renewing Donors on their Gift Anniversary

Posted on 09/23/2018

For many couples, anniversaries can be important markers for their relationship. Whether it’s to celebrate a first date, a first kiss, or a wedding, taking time to remember those important moments from the past can rekindle feelings of connection and love, and ultimately help to strengthen the bond between them. Unfortunately, during busy times, it can be easy to let an important anniversary get overlooked or forgotten. When that happens, of course, it doesn’t mean one loves the other any less. More than likely, it just means that someone could use a little nudge to help them remember.

The concept of anniversaries isn’t foreign to fundraising. For reunions, many institutions use the sentiment and goodwill surrounding the celebration of a class’ past graduation to re-engage alumni and encourage their support. Reunion programs have served as a cornerstone of major and special giving programs for decades.

Baruch College took the concept of anniversary celebrations a step further by incorporating them into their stewardship and donor retention strategy. The “Baruchiversary” was developed as a way to celebrate each donor’s prior-year gift and serve as a reminder to them that it’s time to renew their support. The campaign, which consists simply of a postcard and an email, highlights the importance of their annual giving with a personal touch.

Donors receive the Baruchiversary email at the beginning of the month of their previous year’s gift; if they don’t renew immediately, the postcard is mailed during the second week of the month. Emails are sent from the “Baruch College Fund” addressed to individual donors by name with the subject line that read “Happy Baruchiversary.” A link to a special giving form is included so that donors can renew their support and gifts generated through the campaign can be tracked. The postcards – 5,000 each year, mailed in-house to keep campaign costs low – are addressed to each donor and include “Happy Baruchiversary, You” on the front and a simple appeal on the back that reads, “We hope you will commemorate this anniversary by renewing your gift.”

According to Sidney Ko, Baruch’s Deputy Director of Special Gifts, the response from donors has been overwhelmingly positive. The open rate for Baruchiversary emails averages over 30 percent, compared to open rates for regular Baruch e-appeals averaging in the 10-15 percent range. While December sees the largest number of Baruchiversary communications, the overall annual fund appeal cycle continues to run without interruption – so donors still receive other appeals throughout the year – and the team has not received any complaints from donors about the additional communication.

And not only are donors renewing, they are also engaging in dialogue around the unique name – asking how the team came up with the idea and the proper pronunciation of the word – which serves as a talking point for staff while securing the renewed gift. With such a strong response to the Baruchiversary campaign, the team is implementing a similar “We Missed You” postcard strategy targeting multi-year lapsed donors during the month of their last gift.

Fundraising is all about building relationships, and one of the best ways to strengthen those relationships is to celebrate them. Cheerily reminding donors about a significant date in their relationship with your institution – their donation anniversary – can provide just the feeling of connection they need to strengthen this bond and inspire another round of support.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Donor Retention in the Modern Age.