How to increase your annual giving

How to increase your annual giving

Despite the common perception that the largest donations come from corporations, the reality is that the biggest donors are individuals.

It has been reported that in 2017 total giving across America has surpassed the $400 billion mark for the first time with religion, education, and human resources being the largest areas being funded.

According to Mary J. Foley, managing director of Christian Brothers Services, Catholic School Management and Mission Advancement, says now is the time to capitalize on this surge.

As a surprise to some, the real money, some 70 percent, comes from individuals, not foundations or corporations. Add in bequests which account for another 9 percent, and researching how to pinpoint your individual donors becomes increasingly important.

If your organization, as most groups do, can benefit greatly from annual giving, it is your job to approach these benefactors and engage them.

Foley suggests that most donors give simply because it makes them feel good, maybe stand a little taller and help improve their corner of the world. She explains it is vital to tap into that, learning how to tie benefits into what your donors want to see.

The second reason people give—they are asked.The idea in approaching how to maximize giving is inviting people to feel good all while asking to help your organization.

To start, groups need to take a look back at previous years and evaluate the current status of their annual fund and determine what is still needed to reach goals already set.

Take the time now to schedule thank you calls to past donors, reminding them they still have time to give this year.

Ideally, set goals are fairly specific in annual funds in terms of dollars raised, participation rates; and outlining what the organization is trying to accomplish whether it is new donors, retention rates or what is specific to that group.

Another key element to the annual fund, explains Foley, is how to express funding priorities and how well it is communicated to those within the organization.

She says it could be seen as a mistake to request funds as a means to be the bridge for the group’s financial shortfalls; it may be more prudent to take a look at establishing multiple fundraising initiatives that donors can connect with and care about—perhaps technology; outreach; or various projects that individuals see as a tangible endeavor.

It is then important for all those in the organization to be ready with answers for why the group is seeking a donation and how funds will be used. In this case, specifics outsell generalities.

In addition, segmentation and personalization are the two best techniques to increase participation and gift size, Foley relays.

Skip the “Dear Friend,” letter.  Personalization can make all the difference, she explains. With today’s technology, it is easy to send out letters that can be personalized to individual donors and prospects.

In addition, find ways to segment the audience. It can be grouped by affiliation, constituency, donor status, age/year, involvement or geography.  For example, send a campaign during a reunion year to that group; send on founder’s day or the anniversary of a patron saint—find a connection with which donors can relate.

It is also extremely important to communicate with and thank your past donors throughout the year—don’t wait for a specific campaign so that they feel as if a request is the only communication.  When you do reach out for a donation, remember to thank them for that last gift. How you ask for a gift is equally important. If it was a modest gift, start with a “thank for very generous donation;” if it was larger, you can ask them to match it with a specific amount.  Use analogies to offer better ways for them to use their dollars on your organization.

It also is best to think about donors in different ways—no one is the same. Solicitation techniques and objectives for each solicitation should be tailored. Create separate messages for those who you are trying to bring on board, incentives for new donors; or for past donors, upgrade them to the next level of excellence with a gift club or donor society.

For additional tips to increase giving and learn from case studies, listen in on this free webinar on demand at:

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