Annual giving campaigns, sometimes referred to as “cornerstone campaigns,” form the backbone of many nonprofit fundraising programs for good reason; they provide a structure for the yearly schedule and a reliable and predictable source of income, making life easier for Development staff at all levels. However, just because they are a fundraising staple doesn’t mean that annual campaigns don’t require the same amount of attention, creativity, and work that other campaigns do. Here are five of the best reasons that it is important for Nonprofits to invest in quality annual fundraising campaigns.
1. Anchor your yearly schedulePutting together a fundraising campaign calendar for the year is easier when you’re not starting completely from scratch, and having annual fundraising campaigns is a great way to give your year structure. With campaigns that will be on your calendar year after year, you’ll spend less time planning your schedule and more time fundraising. Big recurring campaigns anchor an annual fundraising schedule, allowing you to fill in the time between them with smaller one-time campaigns. Because they are the “big rocks” on your fundraising schedule, maximizing their potential is important to really making them count.
2. Donors expect itMany donors support multiple organizations pertaining to the various issues that they care about. They’re aware of industry norms, because they’ll be getting fundraising communications from other nonprofits running annual giving campaigns, and they expect you to be on the same page. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t strive for originality (donors will love communication that stands out from the crowd), but you don't want to leave your supporters looking through their inbox on key annual dates like #GivingTuesday or the End of Year and wondering where you are.
3. Budget effectivelyThe consistency of annual campaigns will help your nonprofit more accurately project the income that you can expect to generate of the course of the year and when you’ll raise it, allowing for more effective planning and budgeting. Whether it is an industry-wide annual campaign like End of Year, or a sustainer push that your organization does every year, knowing when to expect donations to come in helps leadership and staff across a nonprofit plan accordingly.
4. Filling a funder requirementSometimes, as nonprofit staff, you’re tied to funders’ requests. Many nonprofits receive several major grants in a year, and it is likely that some of those funders will require that your organization to do some amount of related fundraising. Annual campaigns are a great way to raise money while also checking all of the boxes that you need to cross off.
5. Donors like to have an occasion to give
Donors can grow tired of constant fundraising asks - remember that it’s not just your nonprofit, they’re likely constantly being solicited by multiple organization and it can feel overwhelming. Having an occasion like an annual campaign can help break through the noise and convince donors that now is the time to give.
Once you're ready to start planning an annual giving campaign, download this guide to help you get started! It covers all kinds of campaigns, including #GivingTuesday and the End of Year, and is packed with tips on how to make every campaign successful.