10 Best Practices for Annual Giving Campaigns

A well-run annual fund provides the extra cushion many nonprofit organizations need for yearly operations. 

1. Focus on donors, not soliciting donors            

Appeal to your donors when they want to give and user other mailings to provide information, project updates, or general news. Thank-you programs are also a great way to build loyalty, make additional contact, and create repeat giving. You can never say thank you too many times. Regular communication, rather than solicitations, is important to building a lasting relationship with your donor.  

2. Create special campaigns and giving clubs            

Launch a deliberate effort to specifically ask people for an ongoing commitment, and then reward that loyalty. Consider a gift club for contributions as low as $25, as these donors are perfect planned-gift prospects. Working to build them into your program can reap future rewards for your organization.  

3. Explore new technology            

Don’t make the mistake of spending all your time and money mailing letters. Look to new technology to help you get the word out about what you are doing. Write blogs, post a video on YouTube.com, or set up a Facebook page; these may seem too experimental for your organization, but it can open the door for appeals to an entirely new audience.  

4. Understand your donors

Raising money is becoming a greater challenge with the increased competition for funding. Technology and globalization has allowed people to group into niches, and donors to be connected more than ever before. As you solicit your donors, keep this in mind and speak to their individual interests when possible.  

5. Help volunteers help you  

In the fast paced world we live in today, working around your volunteers may be as important as your mission. Working with their schedules makes it easier for each person to make personal and time commitments to your organization, and your flexibility increases the likelihood that they’ll volunteer again.

6. Get the board involved            

Boards are no longer limited to advisory tasks. Ask your board members to help you thank donors promptly and as often as possible; ask them to contribute to the campaigns by helping with fundraising or establishing a matching program.  

7. Re-energize your list            

Make a deliberate effort to encourage inactive people on your list to get involved, reintroducing your organization to lapsed donors, alumni, etc. It’s a lot harder and more expensive to get new donors on board.  

8. Keep new people involved            

There will always be those people who get involved and stay involved every step of the way, but don’t overlook the value of getting new people involved and interested in your campaign. Bringing in otherwise uninvolved people forms new generations for your campaigns by absorbing their ideas and contributions.  

9. Test            

All good marketers know the value of testing a campaign. It is equally important for fundraisers to do the same. Test different appeals side-by-side to see which has the best response. Then deliver the most successful campaign to your entire donor list.  

10. Accurate records are key            

Inaccurate information can not only lead to a solicitation not reaching its intended recipient, but it has the potential to end with an angry donor. Maintaining up-to-date records for mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers is a no-brainer, but it’s a task that tends to be pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Likewise, all donor information should be recorded, including date and amount of gift, any restrictions, or other pertinent information.   We hope these practices have served as a great reminder for your organization and will help strengthen your annual giving programs.