5 Articles Everyone in Your Annual Giving Office Should Read

by Gwen Doyle and Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

As we start a new year, and as many shops are starting planning for the next fiscal year, there continues to be a pressing need to strengthen the donor pipeline, and often annual giving is under increased pressure to build this sustainable pipeline for future philanthropic efforts. Consider the example of Michael Bloomberg, who gave just $5 his first year after college graduation, and gave $300 million this year to Johns Hopkins. From an analysis of major gifts across hundreds of institutions, Langley Innovations found that the average time between a donor's first gift of any amount and their first major gift is 25 years. Major gifts are most often the culmination of years of consistent philanthropy.

Yet many shops continue to pursue the same techniques year after year, with lackluster success. The five articles below challenge that habitual thinking and invite a closer look at different aspects of successful annual giving efforts. We invite you to read these articles and use them as discussion starters with your colleagues as you open the new year.

1. Looking at 2017: How Annual Giving is Changing

As we contend with "dollars up, donors down," it is time to go beyond the basics of annual giving to comprehensively assess your annual giving program and develop actionable strategies that will help you grow your program for long-term success. To help get a fresh look at how annual giving is changing and how those charged with growing the annual fund need to respond, we reached out to a panel of three fundraising veterans:

Our in-depth interview with Brian, Molly, and Melissa is available here.

2. The Best and Worst Annual Giving Strategies

The two worst strategies:

  • Using the annual fund to balance the annual operating budget.
  • Failing to adjust your annual fund solicitations to loyal donors’ giving patterns.

The two best strategies:

  • Define clear value-added purposes and goals for the year.
  • Make your primary focus retaining loyal donors.

In this article, Jim Langley discusses these four in detail and offers advice for ensuring a successful fiscal year for your annual giving operation.

3. Annual Giving: Building the Case for Support

When developing a case for support for an unrestricted fund, most organizations face a challenge overcoming the “black hole effect”. Heather Greig, Senior Director of Development for Annual Giving at the University of Florida, offers practical advice and provides examples of strong cases for support from a variety of institutions.

Read the article.

4. Cultivating the Next Generation of Wealth

"We are in the midst of a tsunami of wealth transfer," writes Mary Solomons of Skidmore College in this article. "It is predicted that over the next 50 years, anywhere between 20 and 40 trillion dollars of wealth will pass from parents to their children. This year the federal estate tax exemption is nearly $5.5 million dollars, or roughly $11 million if two parents are leaving funds to a child.

"To look at it another way, 10% of wealth is changing hands every five years. Millennials are inheriting their wealth at a rate faster than their parents or their grandparents; one third of millionaires under the age of 32 inherited their money.

As fundraisers, what are we doing to engage this next generation of wealth?"

Explore what we can do.

5. What Disney, Coke, and Pixar Have to Teach Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

Tim Ponisciak, author of Innovative Strategies for Annual Giving and Alumni Relations: Lessons from the Corporate World, provided us with this interview discussing what annual giving offices can learn from successes int he corporate sector. Read more here.