Last week Wendy and I attended an interesting presentation on annual giving at our Hampton Roads AFP chapter meeting. Kim Sperling, Director of Development at the Mason School of Business at William and Mary, revealed “Ten Truths and a Myth about Annual Giving,” which reiterated much of the advice we’ve been giving recently around the state in our “Art of Cultivation” presentation.
Kim began her presentation by dispelling the myth that, “direct mail plus a phone-a-thon equal annual giving.” She followed-up by discussing how nonprofits should be thinking more broadly about their annual giving program, in doing so, we felt she touched on many of the fundamental principles of effective fundraising.
Firstly, nonprofits need to be thinking differently when it comes to cultivation and stewardship, i.e., bringing more personal engagement to annual giving instead of assuming donors will continue to give out of loyalty to your organization, connecting donors to your organization in ways that are meaningful and communicating with them using compelling stories, not just statistics.
As for leadership, Kim noted that an investment in strong leadership is the best thing you can do for your annual giving program, stating that it’s important to not only engage staff and volunteers in your annual giving program but make sure their focus is in the right place—like, securing strong leadership gifts.
Lastly, Kim encouraged nonprofits to focus on fundamentals when it comes to their annual giving—have a clear strategy, ensure that donors are properly solicited (in-person) and that you are giving them a reason to increase their giving from year to year.
Although, this presentation focused specifically on annual giving, much of the advice mimics our “Five ‘Rights’ of Major Gift Solicitation”—the right person, asking the right prospect, for the right reason, and the right amount of money, at the right time. Start practicing these fundamental principles today and we guarantee you’ll see enhancement not only in your annual giving program, but in your organization’s general fundraising effectiveness.