Cultivating Annual Giving Donors

Moving donors up the fundraising pyramid is an art and a science. First and foremost, we need to remember they are people. Our best and most successful fundraising efforts are focused on donor interest not organization need.

Typically, these very important donors, who give less than $100 or $500, don’t get the same attention as major gift ($500, $1,000+++) donors. In this economy, as fundraisers and community-based nonprofit organizations, we don’t have the luxury to follow fundraising theory. We need to change the rules to be successful.

In earlier posts, I talked about engaging staff, Board and volunteers in cultivating these donors. People give to people. We need to engage our annual donors with people to whom they can connect. Let’s talk about how we are going to ask them to give more.

Face to Face
I know this is an alien concept for this level of donor – but open mind here. We host donor receptions for major gift donors all the time. Why can’t we host receptions or events for donors of less than $500? Get the venue/food donated. Can a Board member host? Better yet, use your own space if appropriate and accessible. If possible,  show them your work in action through a formal program, chat with clients, Board members, staff. Think open house concept. Allow plenty of time for staff and Board members to mingle and talk to donors. We want to know what interests them and then show it to them. They started giving you money for a reason – what was it? Seeing, touching and feeling creates interest and/or we find out what makes them tick as donors and as people.

You can use this as a fundraising tool/event – but you need to tell donors through the invitation. And their better have been some cultivation activity between their last gift and this ask. Otherwise you fool them into coming and then ask for money – not a good way to build rapport.

Come on, we’re fundraisers – we know how to put on a special event! This is a piece of cake. Next post will offer meet and mingle questions for staff and Board members.

One on One
This is an opportunity to engage annual giving staff – a teaching moment. Who are their major donors? Anyone who gave $50+. $100+, $500+? Depends on your organization. They can reach out to a select number of donors to help create a deeper relationship between the donor and organization. By talking and meeting with these donors we can learn what interests them and how we can facilitate greater giving based on donor needs… and at the appropriate time ask the donor to increase their gift – in person, not by mail.

Annual giving donors come to us because of a passive ask – a fundraising letter, direct mail piece or an event. We wait for them to respond. Once they are in our database it is up to us to proactively seek their continued support and engagement.

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