7 ways to transform your annual giving strategy

Inject some new life into your annual giving campaign with these creative ideas for fundraisers, online tools, volunteer involvement, and thank yous





Nonprofit Strategies
Nonprofit Strategies

7 ways to transform your annual giving strategy

Inject some new life into your annual giving campaign with these creative ideas for fundraisers, online tools, volunteer involvement, and thank yous





Inject some new life into your annual giving campaign with these creative ideas for fundraisers, online tools, volunteer involvement, and thank yous





Kylie Davis
November 23, 2021
June 15, 2022

Sometimes, you'll find yourself fundraising for a specific cause. You'll launch a campaign to raise funds for new uniforms for the soccer team, or you'll kickstart a capital campaign to add a new wing to the local hospital.

Other times, your fundraising efforts will have one central focus: keeping the lights on.

Nonprofits, just like any company or organization, come with costs attached. Payroll, utilities, and office supplies can run up a hefty bill, even within small to mid-sized nonprofits. To pay for these ongoing expenses, nonprofits can never lose sight of their annual giving efforts. 

An annual giving campaign helps cover the daily costs of your nonprofit, including operational expenses, programming, and fundraising costs.

Your annual fund allows you to continue to accomplish your mission even during off-peak fundraising times and ensures the overall survival of your organization. 

Below, we offer several unique annual giving strategies, including how to engage donors and how to focus on your year-end push. 

7 unique annual giving strategies for your nonprofit organization 

Annual gifts help cover the ongoing costs of any organization, from employing staff to paying your electric bill. Below, we offer several strategies to help meet your annual fund goal. 

1. Offer branded giving levels 🏆

When running a nonprofit, every donation—of every size—counts. With that being said, research shows that 88% of donations come from just 12% of donors. So why not offer special recognition to those who 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 a Whole Grade. 

If a person 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. Hold 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 each of your events, sharing your campaigns on their personal social media accounts, and acting as your team of brand ambassadors. 

So why not leverage them to grow your donor base? 

According to Forrester Research, 70% of Americans trust brand recommendations from family and friends (whereas only 10% will trust an online ad). Translation: A recommendation from a current supporter to their personal network will mean far more than your marketing campaign ever could. Hold a 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 year-end. In fact, nearly one-third (31%) of all annual giving happens in December, with 12% happening in the last three days of the year.

Here's what that 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 a snowman building competition. 

4. Throw a volunteer appreciation event 🥳

Volunteers are the backbone of the nonprofit sector. They willingly and freely give their time to the cause(s) they care about, simply because they believe in its mission. 

Plus, volunteers are twice as likely to donate to a charity compared to non-volunteers (80% vs. 40%). 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 with Givebutter's built-in CRM platform 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

5. Reach your donors on mobile 📲

For years, nonprofits made their annual asks by launching direct mail campaigns or placing phone calls to loyal supporters. However, solicitation tactics have modernized, and therefore you might want to reconsider how you reach individual donors. 

So, how do you reach supporters when you're not knocking on their front door or ringing their landline? The answer could be lying in their back pocket.

Research shows that 51% of people who visit a nonprofit’s website do so on a mobile device. So, be sure your fundraising website is mobile friendly (Givebutter is), plus any embedded donation forms too. 

If you're planning a peer-to-peer fundraising event, send out SMS invitations and follow-up with text blasts after your event. Lastly, consider using a text-to-donate feature or accept Venmo payments 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. Research shows that recurring donors give 42% more than one-time donors, and 94% of donors enrolled in a giving program prefer to give a monthly basis—thereby offering predictable revenue for your nonprofit.

Many times, supporters only hear from the causes they care about when it's time to make a donation. Why not change the script and express your gratitude to donors throughout the fiscal year? 

Consider implementing a donor appreciation event during the spring, typically an off-peak fundraising time. Or, consider launching 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 campaign so you 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 2020, corporations gave $16.88 billion to charity, which could offer significant financial aid to your organization.

There are a number of ways to target corporations to reach your fundraising goal. Consider launching a matching gift program where 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. Host a webinar 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. Finally, partner with businesses to launch a workplace giving program to help support your cause. 

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.

Your annual giving efforts support the operational costs of your organization.

To help boost incoming funds, you can target donors, accept mobile payment methods, throw a volunteer appreciation event, or get creative when sending thank you messages.

To execute all of the above, you'll need a robust fundraising platform to transform your strategy into reality.

Givebutter is the world’s first, completely free, all-in-one fundraising platform with a built-in CRM, robust campaign tools, and marketing automation, helping you reach supporters year-round. With 130+ features at your disposal, it can help you reach your annual giving goal. Ready to see how Givebutter can transform your fundraising efforts? Launch your free account to get started.

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Kylie Davis

Kylie Davis

Givebutter Content Marketing Specialist

Kylie thrives on supporting others, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.

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