Running a Successful Annual Giving Campaign

by Danielle Bloom

3 min read

If your nonprofit is in need of a large amount of unrestricted funds to keep operations running throughout the year, consider running an annual giving campaign. When you focus your attention on raising the bulk of your income during one annual giving campaign, you’re guaranteeing the success of your organization for another year. Annual giving campaigns are common among nonprofits of every size and scope because they are a great way to raise money, engage current donors, and recruit new donors. Before you begin preparing for your own annual giving campaign, take these best practices into account.

Recruit Board Members and Major Supporters

Your nonprofit’s most loyal supporters propel your annual giving campaigns. These supporters include board members, volunteers, and major donors. Board members are the backbone of any nonprofit organization. Aside from guiding big-picture processes and strategic plans, board members are also on the front lines when it comes to fundraising. Because board members are the guiding force, it’s important that they contribute financially to show how much they value your nonprofit and to set a precedent moving forward. The same goes for those long time, dedicated volunteers, donors, and other supporters. When those closest to your nonprofit get involved and give first during an annual giving campaign, they help to create and sustain momentum.

Diversify Outreach

Annual giving campaigns power nonprofit organizations on both the administration and program levels. Therefore, it’s important to bring in every dollar possible, because this money strengthens and expands your work. While it was once okay to rely solely on direct mail and phone calls to bring in donations, technology has shifted the way nonprofits raise funds. It’s vital that nonprofits adapt to these changes. Create a detailed annual giving fundraising plan that encompasses every way you plan to reach out to both current and prospective donors. Common fundraising mediums include:

  • Email marketing
  • Crowdfunding platforms
  • Social media fundraising (such as the Facebook “Donate” button)
  • Your website
  • Direct mail
  • Phone calls

Ideally, nonprofits use a combination of these mediums to target annual giving campaign donors.

Enlist the Help of Supporters

Donors have been recommending their favorite nonprofits using in-person word-of-mouth marketing for years. However, technology has made it even easier for anyone to share this information to their online networks quickly and efficiently. A great way to increase the reach and results of your annual giving campaign is to enlist the help of your supporters. There are many ways they can help your nonprofit’s campaign succeed, such as:

  • Fundraising for your organization in a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign
  • Sharing personal stories about their experiences with your nonprofit online
  • Emailing friends and family about the campaign and including a donation link

When you enlist the help of your supporters to drive your annual giving campaign, you’re also engaging them in the process, which helps boost retention rates.

Consider an Incentive

Annual giving campaigns require commitment on the part of the nonprofit and the nonprofit’s donor base. Since these fundraising campaigns occur year after year, it’s important to keep people interested by offering an incentive to participate. The scope of incentives varies greatly depending on your nonprofit’s resources. However, there are many incentives that don’t require money, including:

  • Secure a donation match (from a local business or major donor) to leverage a donor’s gift further
  • Give annual giving campaign donors access to beneficial content, such as featured client stories
  • Allow annual campaign donors to spread their gift out in monthly payments over the course of a year

Like all nonprofit fundraising, running a successful annual giving campaign requires proper planning and resources. However, there are ways to help boost the results of your annual giving campaign, such as getting the upfront support of current board members and donors, diversifying the ways you reach donors, engaging supporters to help with the fundraising efforts, and offering incentives to boost participation.

References & Resources

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