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Nonprofit Strategies

7 ways to transform your annual giving strategy

Inject new life into your annual giving strategy with top tools and creative ideas for fundraisers, volunteer engagement, and donor appreciation.

Kylie Davis
December 28, 2022
November 23, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Your annual fund helps cover the daily costs of running your nonprofit, including operations, programming, and fundraising expenses, allowing you to continue your work even during off-peak fundraising times. Creating an annual giving strategy for your nonprofit is key to sustaining your mission and ensuring the overall survival of your organization year in and year out.

In this article, we'll cover several unique annual giving strategies, including how to better engage your donors and tips for crushing your year-end fundraising push.

7 unique annual giving campaign ideas for your nonprofit 

Unlike fundraising for a specific project, like raising cash for new soccer team uniforms or a capital campaign to add a wing to a hospital, annual gifts go toward your nonprofit's ongoing budget items—from program expenses to your electric bill. Payroll, utilities, and office supplies can add up fast, even for small organizations.

These seven ideas for shaking up your annual giving strategy will help ensure that you meet your financial goals and keep your gears turning for years to come.

1. Offer branded giving levels 🏆

Nonprofits should celebrate every donation of every size. That said, nearly 90% of individual donation revenue in recent years has been coming from just about 10% of donors. So why not offer special recognition to those who are able to pledge major gifts to your organization?

Create different tiers for each recurring giving level, with special benefits offered to each level. For instance, if you're a nonprofit dedicated to purchasing school supplies for elementary students, your various tiers could be labeled Fund A Child, Fund A Class, or Fund An Entire Grade. 

If a supporter donates at a certain level, reward their loyalty with a special year-end gift or an invitation (plus a reserved table) at your annual gala. Or, you might tailor thank-you messages to the supporter's giving level, sending custom thank-you video messages or handwritten cards to major gift tiers.

2. Host a BAF (bring a friend) event 👯

Loyal supporters form the backbone of any annual giving campaign. These recurring donors come back year after year, attending more events, sharing your campaigns on their personal social media accounts, and becoming your own team of brand ambassadors. Why not leverage these relationships to grow your donor base? 

Millennials in a recent study reported trusting brand recommendations from family and friends 115% more than they do from ads.

Translation: Social proof is no joke!

A word-of-mouth recommendation from a current supporter to their personal network will mean far more than a marketing campaign alone ever could. See for yourself and organize a fun BAF event where you ask each donor to bring a plus one who has never given before but might support your cause.

3. Start planning for your year-end ask early 📆

While your annual fundraising campaign helps cover expenses year-round, you'll receive the bulk of funds at the end of the year. In fact, nearly one-third of all annual giving happens in December, with 10% of donations coming in during the last three days of the year. This means you need to get a jumpstart on your year-end ask, beginning your strategy session in late summer.

While many nonprofit consultants suggest dedicating October to year-end planning, one month might not be enough to plan an event, rally your volunteer base, or send out invitations. November and December are the most popular months for making year-end asks, so you need to be ready to launch your push when winter hits. Consider launching a festive event to celebrate the season, whether it's a cross-country skiing 5K, a winter festival, or even a snowman-building competition. 

4. Throw a volunteer appreciation event 🥳

Volunteers are the backbone of the nonprofit sector. They willingly give their time to causes they care about, simply because they believe in an organization's mission. 

Plus, volunteers are two-thirds more likely to donate to a charity compared to those who do not give their time. In other words, a significant portion of your recurring gifts could come from your volunteer base—so be sure to show your appreciation! 

Consider launching a volunteer database to store contact information and activity history for your volunteers. When a volunteer makes a contribution, have someone from your internal team send them a handwritten note. Lastly, consider throwing an annual volunteer appreciation party to express your gratitude. 

Annual giving: Timeline & History, Givebutter feature

5. Reach your donors on mobile 📲

For years, many nonprofits have made their annual appeals by launching direct mail campaigns or placing phone calls to loyal supporters. But modern new tools for solicitation are making it easier to reach your donors right from their back pocket. In fact, more than half of people who visit a nonprofit’s website do so on a mobile device.

Make sure your fundraising site and any donation forms you have are mobile-friendly—and while you're at it, embrace other mobile features like SMS (text messaging), text-to-donate, and even mobile payment options like Venmo and Apple Pay so supporters can give on the go.

Annual giving: Givebutter mobile features

6. Never stop expressing your gratitude 🤟

Increasing donor retention should be a fundamental goal of your annual giving strategy. Recurring donors give 42% more than one-time donors, and 94% of donors enrolled in a giving program prefer to give on a monthly basis, thereby offering predictable revenue for your nonprofit.

Too often, supporters only hear from the causes they care about when it's time to make a donation. Why not change the script and create meaningful opportunities to engage with your donors throughout the year, including expressing your gratitude in creative new ways.

Consider implementing a donor appreciation event during the spring, typically an off-peak fundraising time. Or, launch a donor stewardship initiative across social media, offering shoutouts or posting a heartfelt caption highlighting a major gift donor. Or, switch up your email marketing and share thoughtful news articles about your organization or reports explaining how their funds were used. 

7. Engage corporations, not just individuals 🏢

If you’re only forging relationships with individual donors, you’re doing yourself, and your cause, a disservice. In 2021, the business sector donated $21.08 billion to charity, a 23.8% increase from 2020. Corporate sponsorship and philanthropic giving can offer significant financial aid to your organization.

There are a number of ways to target corporations to reach your annual fundraising goal. Consider launching a matching gift program in which employers can double the contributions of their employees. If you're planning your largest fundraising event for the year, ask a local business to be a headline sponsor. Or host a webinar or in-person gathering with local CEOs, business owners, or HR professionals in your area, outlining how a CSR (corporate social responsibility) program could help them capture and retain top talent.

Launch your annual giving campaign with Givebutter 

Givebutter features

Every nonprofit organization has ongoing costs, from paying the internet bill to offering snacks and beverages to your volunteers. To cover these expenses—and to offer predictable revenue for your nonprofit—you'll need to launch an annual giving campaign and think strategically about how to best bring in new donors, what payment methods to accept, how to show appreciation to your volunteers, and ways to get creative with your thank-you messages.

To really nail your annual fundraising strategy, you need a robust fundraising platform that can equip you with all the tools you need to reach your goals. Givebutter is a free all-in-one fundraising platform with a built-in CRM, robust campaign features, and marketing automation to help you reach supporters year-round and raise what you need to fulfill your mission.

Ready to see how Givebutter can transform your fundraising efforts? Create your free account to get started! 

Get started
Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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