Annual donors are the solid base of your fundraising organization. These donors, who give year in and year out to support your overhead and basic program needs, form the foundation of your non-profit’s revenue and allow you to carry out the work of your organization year after year.
The Basics: What is Annual Giving?
Generally, annual giving is unrestricted money that is given to your organization to be used as part of your general fund. It is not for your endowment or any of the campaigns you are running. It is general support from your donor base. For the most part, these are not major gifts, and instead are small and mid-sized donations.
Here are five great ways to find new annual donors for your non-profit:
#1 – Convert Event Donors
People who sponsor and buy tickets for your fundraising events are excellent annual giving prospects. I have had great success at several organizations with efforts to convert event donors to annual donors.
The best way to do this is to launch a cultivation process for these donors… once the event is over, be in contact with them, send them updates, give them a call or invite them in for a tour. Then ask them to give as part of your annual giving campaign.
#2 – Launch a Multi-Format Annual Appeal
If you’re trying to find new annual donors, you should be running a multi-format annual appeal. First and foremost, if you aren’t sending out an annual appeal via mail (or several annual appeals per year via mail), you should be. Then, consider what other formats you can use to make asks for annual donations as part of each round of letters.
For example, you could also send out annual appeal letters via e-mail. For mid-level donors, you can use follow up calls and perhaps even a face to face meeting for your largest annual givers. The more formats you use, the more annual gifts you will receive.
#3 – Host Multiple Non-Ask Events Per Year
Non-ask events are a phenomenal way to garner new annual support. These events are short (usually around 1 hour) and, as the name implies, do not involve an ask. Instead, they are a time for new prospects and community members to hear about your organization. With the proper follow up, you should be able to convert a good percentage of the attendees into annual givers.
For more information on how to hold non-ask events at your non-profit, read: How to Hold a Non-Ask Event.
#4 – Start New Affinity Groups
Is your organization using affinity groups to cultivate prospects and steward donors? If not, now is the time to start. Affinity groups are groups of prospects and donors who share a common trait. For example, you may have an attorneys group, a young professionals group, or a group of supporters who all live in the northern part of your city. These groups hold regular events, network, and join together in support of your non-profit.
Affinity groups are a great way to introduce your non-profit to new bases of support, and the attendees at these events are great prospects for your annual giving program.
More information on running affinity groups can be found in our article Creative Fundraising Ideas for Non-Profit Organizations.
#5 – Ask Donors to Hold Hosted Events
Many organizations have found that having their donors, board members, and other supporters host events on their behalf is a good way to bring in new low- and mid-level annual givers.
Under this strategy, a supporter will hold an event in their home (either a fundraising or a non-ask event) and invite their own friends and colleagues to attend the event, eat, drink, and hear about your organization from one of your staff or board members. Your organization collects the name and contact information of everyone who attends, then follows-up for cultivation and asks.
For more information on how to launch hosted events at your organization, read: Raising Money Through Hosted Events.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Simms Photography