Taking Control of Annual Fundraising
14 November 2005 at 12:11 pm
New donors traditionally start out by giving to an organisation’s annual fund. A new Blackbaud White Paper discusses how to keep donors happy beyond the first donation.
The US software company for Not for Profits, Blackbaud says that annual funds offer a unique opportunity to begin the process of building donor loyalty. But dozens of repeat solicitations each year will not do the trick; rather and Not for Profits need to measure their efforts and target their appeals with the right message and the right approach.
Done poorly, Blackbaud says each lost opportunity can cost a charity thousands of dollars over a person’s lifetime. Done correctly, you can improve your annual fundraising results, create loyal donors, and identify those people who are most likely to become your best planned giving and major gift prospects.
Blackbaud has released a new White Paper that emphasis that the annual fund is the cornerstone of a successful fundraising program.
While the case studies involve US charities the messages translate well to the Australian setting.
The White paper called “Taking Control of Your Annual Fund” says almost every Not for Profit has an annual gift fund — and these funds are the building blocks for major and planned giving success.
Annual giving is the name given to solicitation efforts that are designed to achieve five aims:
– To promote introductory giving
– To reach large groups of individuals
– To promote loyal giving
– To be efficient and cost effective
– To minimise the intrusion into a donor’s life
The White Paper says although organisations generally incorporate the first three aims into their equation, they often forget about the final two goals.
Many charities rely on direct mail campaigns to solicit small donations from a large pool, and they hope in the process to reel in people who will become loyal donors.
The problem, however, is that the bar is generally set too low and the solicitation strategy is ‘scatter-shot’ at best.
If you are interested in improving your annual gift fundraising results, here are some of Blackbaud’s best practices to get you started.
1. Implement anniversary data solicitations.
Soliciting donors when they like to give builds loyalty and proves your NFP is paying attention. Identify those people in your database who have consistently given to you in the same month or same quarter, and appeal to them at that time. Use the other two or three mailings you send them each year to provide news, give a project update, or just say thank you.
2. Build gift clubs based on loyalty.
Most gift clubs are based on donation size. Organisations from universities to operas have gift clubs based on $10,000, $1,000, or even $100 donors. Missing from this approach, however, is recognition of donor loyalty. Since consistent low-end annual-gift donors are your best planned gift prospects, it is important to reward that loyalty early and often. Consider creating a gift club for loyal donors — regardless of whether they give $250 or $25 a year.
3. Test your appeal.
The best way to learn what works and what does not is to test your messages. Take a subsection of your list, and try out a more targeted appeal. If it works, then expand the experiment and watch your annual fund grow.
4. Do not always ask for money.
The best donor is a loyal donor, and people like to be courted. Sometimes it pays not to ask for anything. Build a strong relationship over time by sending thank-you notes, items of interest, and other news. The bottom line: Make your donors feel special.
A NFPs annual fund is a building block to fundraising success. Annual funds offer charities a great opportunity to make a good first impression and to start the process of promoting lifelong donor loyalty.
Savvy appeals can help you efficiently and cost-effectively raise money while minimising the intrusion into your donors’ lives. Custom modelling can help you identify who is likely to give more versus less and which of your loyal donors are your best prospects for planned or major gifts. All of these factors are critical elements to sustaining your mission over the long haul.
To download the free White Paper in PDF please click on the following link: www.blackbaud.com/bb/bba/annualfund.aspx?WT.mc_id=3_af