I think one of the most annoying concepts in fundraising is this thing called the “Annual Appeal.” I know a lot of universities, hospitals and small non-profits use this strategy, but I gotta tell you, it drives me nuts!
In fact, I wish we could kill the whole concept.
Why? Because it’s the most anti-donor, uninspired concept in all of fundraising. And, hey… it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Go look at the donor file of an organization that pushes the “Annual Appeal” — their gift frequency rate is… guess what? 1.0 per year.
Now you might argue this with me and say, “Well that’s just the term, we don’t really mean that we only ask donors once a year for a gift.”
Really? Think about it from the donor’s perspective. “Yeah, I gave to the school’s Annual Appeal, I’ve done my duty.” Believe me, that’s how they think about it.
It drives me crazy.
I have to imagine that this concept came from someone who must have hated fundraising and presumed that the donor could only be bothered once a year. “How dare we ask a donor more than once?”
Then, even crazier, someone realized that we really did need to ask our donors more than once a year, because, well, it brought in more money… but we’ll still needed to call it an Annual Appeal.
What? Does anyone get that?
If you’re one of these Annual Appeal advocates, let me tell you something…
Donors have LIFE! Yes, if donors are inspired by your organization’s work, they want to give more than once a year. Amazing concept, huh?
And if we can’t get more creative than the term “Annual Appeal,” we shouldn’t be in this business. Donors want to be inspired by great projects and effective programs that help change the world.
If you are effectively cultivating your donors, you are presenting multiple opportunities for donors to fund and get involved with. And don’t think that just because you’re cultivating major donors you only have to build them up for the “one big ask” per year.
Again, if you really know your donors, if you understand what they are passionate about, you’ll present many opportunities throughout the year for them to consider.
So who’s with me? Can we finally kill this idea of the “Annual Appeal?” Let’s inspire our donors, put great projects in front of them throughout the year, and challenge them to make a difference.