Introduction to a six-part series
The development of a comprehensive annual giving program can be a daunting task. But this series of six short articles provides a tested method of making your annual giving program manageable and successful.
A well-documented first step toward a solid fundraising plan is to come up with a strong case for support. That’s not what this particular set of articles is about. For more on that, please see our separate article about the basics of developing your case for support.
Once you have your case, you can plan your annual giving program. While there are many methodologies, we’ve found the following to be highly effective in most situations. We’ve broken up the process into the following six steps that we believe are critical to a successful outcome:
We’ve seen that the most successful annual giving campaigns don’t follow these steps sequentially. Instead, they move back and forth between them fluidly. The most important thing is to be flexible.
Key take-aways for each section:
1. Identify your prospects and acquire data
A comprehensive annual giving program will involve the solicitation of all types of constituents. You need to properly collect, categorize, and update data on those constituents. Don’t be afraid to think creatively when it comes to adding prospects to your list: board members and volunteers often have contacts they could add, as do program leaders and event coordinators.
2. Create a segmented approach
The data you collect about your constituents will help you ask the right person for the right gift at the right time. By segmenting your constituent data into like groupings, whether by past giving history or affinity, you can craft messages that are specific to their interests.
3. Develop a stewardship and cultivation plan
A successful appeal relies on informing, engaging, and inviting your constituents to invest in your organization. Creating a stewardship and cultivation plan for each segment will help you acquire new donors and retain existing ones. You shouldn’t try to solicit everyone in your prospect list with every appeal, but over the course of the year, make sure you’ve approached everyone with an appropriate set of appeals.
4. Personalize your approach
Use the knowledge you have gained and stored in your database to personalize your solicitation. From recognizing your donor’s last gift to using prospective donors’ first names in your correspondence, be sure your constituents know that you want to engage with them personally.
5. Ensure proper gift acknowledgment and accounting
Retention of donors is paramount to the success of an annual giving campaign, and the proper acknowledgment and accounting of gifts help ensure that your donors will give again.
6. Evaluate your appeal strategy and results
Develop ways to assess your appeal’s effectiveness throughout the appeal process. This helps you adapt your strategy to ensure success. Make sure you measure results by segment, rather than just overall; otherwise you will miss key insights into what’s working and what’s not.
As you read these articles you will notice these key LGL features that can make your annual appeal successful:
- 360-degree view of constituent. LGL gives you a complete picture of how of each constituent is engaged with your organization.
- Ability to manage all aspects of an appeal within LGL. LGL helps ensure you are not missing a key step in the process, from inputting constituent information to tracking gifts to doing analysis, reporting results, and sending out acknowledgments.
- Up-to-the-minute status of appeal. Because the database is always up to date for anyone who accesses it, you spend less time and energy informing members of your team.
- Increased team capacity. Your entire team can access the database (depending on the level of permissions you give them), receive the information they need, and be assigned tasks, all of which makes your work quicker, more reliably communicated, and more efficiently completed.
End of introduction