3 Annual Giving Myths Debunked [Webinar Recap]

Ronnie Gomez

Recently, the NeonCRM team hosted a webinar where we debunked the 3 most common myths on annual giving. If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed:

During the presentation, we went over the basic of annual giving (1:48), our three myths (5:05), and answered a few crowdsourced questions (27:37). Prefer to skim? Keep reading for a full recap! 

Annual Fund Basics

Before we begin separating myths from fact, it’s important to understand the key objectives that provide a baseline for annual fund success. 

Your annual fund campaign should have two goals: supporting your nonprofit’s operational expenses through unrestricted funds and forming stronger donor relationships. 

That first goal, raising money to cover operating expenses, is usually the first thing that comes to mind when discussing annual funds, because it’s simple, it’s easy to measure, and it’s tied to financials. 

The second goal, the donor retention aspect, can often fall to the wayside but it’s just as important as the first. If the first goal allows you to sustain your current operations, the second one is what sets you up for growth.

See, your annual fund campaign is mission-focused, meaning it’s an opportunity to create a stronger brand connection between your organization and your donors. A strong brand connection is what keeps your nonprofit at the top of their mind when they get a holiday bonus or are gifted some extra cash. 

All aspects of your annual fund, from your appeals to your donation pages, can be used to further build your brand and create lasting connections with your donors. With that in mind, let’s get into the myths. 

Myth #1: Only large, long-standing organizations can run effective annual giving campaigns.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Organizations of all sizes can run successful annual giving campaigns. Although annual funds require significant time and resources, the size of the campaign will always be proportionate to the needs of the organization. 

Even if you only have a team of two fundraisers, you don’t need a bunch of expertly designed ads, or a viral social media moment. All you need to do is remind your donors why they enjoy giving to your organization.

Shift your focus from what the big guys are doing, to what you have the bandwidth to do. And whatever you do, make sure you have an excellent donor stewardship strategy in place.

Takeaway: Smaller organizations won’t have as many donors to solicit, by virtue of being a smaller, or newer organization. 

Myth #2: Donors who have given to your annual campaign won’t donate to another campaign in the same year. 

Donors give when they’re moved to give. When done tactfully, there’s no reason your annual fund campaign will make raising funds for more specific fundraising campaigns more difficult. 

What’s most important here, is messaging. Your annual fund and your campaign-specific fundraising initiatives are developed with two entirely different purposes in mind. Lean into that, and drill down your messaging to highlight the importance of both. 

While planning your campaign, take the time to dive into the value propositions. For your annual fund, this is where you’ll explain that this is an opportunity for donors to support the whole of your organization, and your ongoing work with your mission. 

Takeaway: Focus on creating a connection between your organization’s brand and your donors. 

Myth 3: Annual Fund campaigns shouldn’t be focused on soliciting individual donors. 

Annual campaigns are all about individual donors! Not only are individuals the easiest to form personal relationships with, but they’re also the most valuable type of donors for nonprofits. 

They might give less upfront, but fundraising is a long game. Contributions made by individual donors on average, make up 70% of your overall funds raised, plus individuals are more likely to give on a recurring basis. 

Use your CRM tools to support your annual fund activities so you can gather more information on your individual donors. Your data is the best resource when it comes to tightening those relationships, so get as much as you can. 

You should be leveraging your technology to turn every constituent engagement into an opportunity to learn more about your donors and why they care about your mission.

Takeaway: Your individual donors are the backbone of all your fundraising activities, including your annual fund. 

There you have it! 

When it comes to planning your annual fund campaign, remember these three tips: plan for what’s attainable, focus on tailoring your messaging, and don’t discount your individual donors. 

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