Leadership Annual Giving Benefits

Annual giving staff can often feel as if they are being pulled in multiple directions with priorities ranging from expanding the donor base, building a pipeline, and raising unrestricted dollars. The result is that annual giving staff are often left to determine—with finite resources available—how they can allocate and prioritize time and budget to best accomplish goals. While there’s no magic bullet, revitalizing your existing leadership annual giving program or creating a new one can be an incredibly effective tool.

Three Benefits of a Strong Leadership Annual Giving Program

Three Benefits of a Strong Leadership Annual Giving Program

Securing More Dollars

To fully understand why leadership annual giving is a tremendous opportunity, we must first acknowledge a gap in traditional fundraising programs.

According to the Urban Institute, the upper middle class has grown from 12.9% of the population in 1979 to 29.4% of the population in 2014. In all but the bottom 6%, real growth in the upper middle class has occurred through income growth (as opposed to asset growth)—which means increased discretionary income and good news for annual giving. The problem is that many of these donors are capable of giving more than the token annual gifts they’re already making through direct mail or email appeals but do not have enough perceived giving capacity to be included in major gift programs. Therefore, these donors are not given the special attention necessary to move them to more sizable annual contributions.

Leadership annual giving programs can target these individuals specifically and secure more unrestricted or designated-yet-budget-relieving dollars for their organizations.

Building the Pipeline

In addition to increased revenue for your organization now, leadership annual giving programs can be a tremendously helpful strategy in building a major gift pipeline. The progression from first-time gifts to regular gifts to leadership annual gifts is a strong indicator that a donor has the capacity and affinity to be a major gift prospect in the future.

By engaging donors at the leadership annual giving level, your organization can begin to understand more about donor motivators and behaviors—valuable information for development strategies as donors become major gift prospects. Tracking the appeals that the donors are giving to provides insight into their philanthropic interests, even before a gift officer sees them in person.

Attracting and Retaining Staff

Attracting and retaining talent is an increasing concern for all non-profit organizations, as the need for successful fundraisers becomes more pressing. Annual giving seems to be the program within the development team that has the shortest staff tenures, as successful performers leave to develop the additional skills they believe they need to move up the development ranks. Leadership annual giving programs can become a retention tool by offering skills and opportunities to staff members.

While annual giving was once the entry point for nearly all development professionals, today we understand that the skills it takes to do direct marketing well are entirely different than those necessary to build relationships in face-to-face meetings. Adding a leadership annual giving component to the program means that staff with both analytical and interpersonal skills can gain valuable experience while developing skills.

Bentz Whaley Flessner’s annual giving team understands not only the benefits of leadership annual giving programs but also the complexities and challenges that come with them. Contact us today to discuss assessing, launching, or revitalizing your annual giving program. Together, we transform philanthropy.

Originally published October 12, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.

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