Running a Successful Annual Giving Campaign

According to a recent Giving USA report, Americans donated over 373 billion dollars in cash to charitable causes in 2015. Not only is this a great indication of the American giving spirit, but is further an indication that that spirit is only growing, as the number grew four percent that year. What’s more, the largest philanthropic group in that report was not large corporations, but individual donors. That’s more than twice the amount given by corporations and foundations COMBINED!

This is great news for anyone looking to run a successful annual giving campaign. With individual donors making up the majority of charitable giving in the US, the potential target market is obvious. Individuals. The even better news is that there are far fewer barriers to that audience than there are to foundations and corporations. You don’t have to speak to innumerable representatives to get to the people with the purchasing or giving power. Reach an individual, and the work is half done.

Of course, finding the RIGHT individual is the real trick. The individual with a giving spirit, passion for your work, etc. can be difficult, time consuming, and ultimately can eat into your bottom line. To help, we’ve put together a 1-2-3 process for running successful annual giving campaigns.

1. Make It Memorable

People attempting to run successful annual giving campaigns can struggle out of the gate simply because getting attention to your campaign can seem so corporate. We start talking about “marketing” and “appeals” and “calls-to-action” and peoples’ eyes start glossing over. Unfortunately, this attention to detail regarding how you get attention is potentially the most important step, because without successful execution of these early tasks, the later ones cannot happen.

There are common practices with giving campaigns that can help in this regard. Over the years, giving campaigns have been executed in similar ways that can help you hit the ground running without sacrificing what makes you unique. For example, a mid-year and/or end-of-year (or holiday) giving campaign is very common. This means people who are used to giving charitably might be waiting at this time of year to hear about a mission that speaks to them. Also, remember that Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving. On this day, people who typically who do not give to charitable causes might be willing to give small amounts, which can add up quickly.

2. Make It Fun

It might sound harsh, but if your idea of a giving campaign is a catchy Kickstarter title, you’re going to fail. It’s just not enough anymore, as crowdfunding is becoming more and more saturated, seemingly by the day. A better way of approaching a giving campaign is to make it fun, and a great way of doing that is to center the campaign around an amazing event.

The first thing you’ll want to do when planning your event is to reflect on what you’re trying to accomplish with the money. If you can incorporate your mission, maybe by inviting a celebrity who has been helped by what you’ve done or affected by what you’re trying to reduce or eradicate. Following that, it all depends on the venues around you, who you can get to attend (see step 1) and what funding you can get for the event, but make sure not to let an opportunity for improvement slip by.

3. Make ’em Feel Special

People who give you money, particularly individuals who do not have the resources of a large foundation or corporation, are special. When you take their money, it’s not enough to simply say thank you. Thank you does not adequately relay your gratitude, so don’t leave it there. First you’ll want to acknowledge their giving, no matter what they gave. Decide, either by considering past events or by researching related events, what a large gift would be and make sure you plan something special and personal. Maybe have someone who will be impacted by the donation make a select few calls or write a personalized thank you card. Smaller donations are also important, however, so finding something that might not be labor-intensive but still be personalized is a great way to show your gratitude.