Gift Guide

Conducting a Successful Annual Giving Program / Edition 1

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Bringing together over 50 years of annual fund experience, master fundraiser Kent E. Dove has joined Carolyn P. Madvig and Jeffrey A. Lindauer to bring you a complete guide to planning and managing the most fundamental fundraising strategy: the annual giving program. Conducting a Successful Annual Giving Program, the third volume in the groundbreaking Dove on Fundraising Series, features a wealth of illustrative samples of fundraising tools, many of which have never before been offered in book form. Throughout the book, the authors address the key components of an annual giving program—including telemarketing, direct mail, special events, personal solicitation and matching gifts—and reveal how to integrate each component of the annual giving program into a coherent, fluid fundraising plan.

View an example of a teaching tool available in this title:Course Syllabus.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Conducting a Successful Annual Giving Program gives modern definition and direction to the most traditional and oldest form of fundraising-the annual fund. It begins a new millennium with a fresh, comprehensive approach." —Tim Seiler, director, The Fund Raising School, Indiana University Center on Philanthropy
This reference for fund-raising professionals, volunteers, and students describes in chronological order the steps to conducting an annual giving program. In the first part of the text, Dove and two co- authors<-->all fund-raisers with the Indiana U. Foundation<-->discuss such topics as direct mail campaigns, telemarketing, working with volunteers, and donor appreciation. The second half of the volume contains sample mailings, checklists, and examples of how various organizations conduct their annual giving programs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787956493
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/16/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 7.28 (w) x 9.63 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Kent Dove, one of America's most successful and respected fundraisers, is Senior Adviser and Executive Director, Campaign Planning, for the Indiana University Foundation. He has served on the educational fundraising committee of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as well as on the board of directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (formerly NSFRE). He is the author of Conducting a Successful Capital Campaign, 2nd Edition (Jossey-Bass, 2000) and Conducting a Successful Fundraising Program (Jossey-Bass, 2001).

Jeffrey A. Lindauer is executive director of special gifts and annual giving programs at the Indiana University Foundation.

Carolyn P. Madvig is the former director of special gifts and annual giving programs and now serves as executive director, development administration and services at the Indiana University Foundation.

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Read an Excerpt


Defining the Annual Campaign

Any gifts that can reasonably be expected to recur on a regular, periodic basis to support or sustain the operating budget of a nonprofit organization can be defined as annual gifts. These gifts are sought more to help meet annual operating budgets and generally to sustain nonprofits with gaps between their projected needs and projected revenues from other income sources. Virtually all nonprofits derive their operating budgets from a variety of sources—tuition, fees, contracts, grants—and supplement these revenues with private support. Fundraising takes two standard forms: the annual giving program, or annual fund, and the capital campaign. Over the past quarter-century the standard definition of both forms has expanded, but the basic terms remain in common usage today, and there is no indication that either will disappear from the lexicon of fundraising anytime soon.

The traditional annual fund was characterized by nonprofits seeking one gift from a donor during a given twelve-month period, the period being based on either the organization's fiscal year or, more commonly, the calendar year. It truly sought an "annual" gift. Today, contributed sources of sustaining or operating funds often come from a comprehensive approach that encourages multiple donations from supporters throughout the year rather than "annual" gifts. Today's comprehensive approach includes frequent mailings to mail-responsive supporters; grants for operating funds; sponsorships for performances, activities, and events; personal solicitations; special events; telemarketing; membershipdrives; and other fundraising strategies distinctive to a particular organization. Today's broader definition of annual giving is a shorthand, familiar expression for operating funds. It no longer implies one gift per year from each donor but rather describes the organization's annual plan for obtaining and renewing donors.

Typically, annual giving is the primary source for bringing in new donors to the organization, as well as renewing donors up to a certain level—usually $1,000 to $5,000 per year. Annual fund is an apt name for the process, which occurs on a yearly basis and provides the support necessary to fund annual budgets and provide ongoing services.

The annual fund is the foundation of all other fundraising efforts. If one thinks of fundraising as a pyramid, the annual fund is the base of that pyramid, bringing in smaller dollars but the largest number of donors. The goal is to create the habit of philanthropy: to work hard in getting the first gift and then continuing to provide compelling reasons for future, increasing gifts, until a few donors identify themselves as serious major gift prospects. Every annual fund should work closely with major and planned giving programs. In essence, the annual fund is in the business of identifying the major donors of the future.

Major gifts are defined as the top 10 to 20 percent of gifts received by an organization that produce 70 to 80 percent or more of its gift income. In larger organizations, it is not unusual to see a major gift defined as $50,000 to $100,000. For smaller and newer organizations, major gifts may be defined as $2,500 to $5,000 or more. For institutions between the two extremes—the majority of all nonprofits—the definition of a major gift will range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more based on individual circumstance. A lead gift is one that serves to establish a trend for giving by others believed to be capable of making gifts at the same level. It is possible to secure lead gifts in the major, special, and general division of the gift table. However, most commonly, lead gifts are associated with the top gift, or gifts, to an organization. To satisfy this definition, lead gifts need to represent a gift of 10 percent or more of the campaign goal. A nucleus gift is a gift received at the earliest stages of the campaign, usually a major or lead gift, and most often given by an institutional insider (a board member or previous major donor). Nucleus gifts collectively provide a nucleus fund to create a giving momentum to launch a campaign. All are commonly referred to as major gifts and often referred to as key gifts too, particularly in the annual fund context.

Most nonprofits also consider the annual fund the mass marketing arm of their organization because it is the vehicle through which the majority of supporters make contributions, with most gifts coming through mail or telephone appeals or as a result of special events. Special events are widely and heavily used by many smaller nonprofits to raise operating funds, and increasingly technology will also be a factor. For larger annual gifts, face-to-face solicitation remains the preferred method.

Why is it important to have an annual fund? After all, assuming an organization has a sufficient major donor base to pursue a major gift strategy, it can get funding much more quickly by contacting just a few individuals and asking them to make significant gifts. To employ only this approach is extremely shortsighted, however, and can cause significant problems in the long run if the donor base is not continually expanded and properly maintained.

Prospect is used throughout this book to describe in general, familiar terms anyone who has the financial ability to give, as well as an interest, demonstrated or anticipated, in making a contribution. Chapter Seven contains a more specific, differentiated definition, often used to describe potential major gift donors. A prospect pool is the number of names to be included in a specific, or segmented, appeal or approach. For a general appeal or approach, the donor pool equals the number of names in the organization's database. Programs, even those that focus on larger gifts, need a steady stream of new prospects to ensure the pipeline does not run dry. To have annual fund success, an organization needs to be visionary and look not only at what is available today but also at how it is discovering and encouraging its major donors of the future.

A good annual fund incorporates the following components:

  • A personal touch. As fundraising efforts continue to increase and nonprofits proliferate, people become increasingly discerning, and "Dear Friend" mass approaches will not work as they once did. It has become important to incorporate as much personalization as possible into a program, from personalized salutations to having as much information about the individual available as possible when making telephone calls.
  • Prospect and donor interests. In order to draw in adequate prospects, an organization needs to keep each prospect's interests in mind at all times. Staff need to think not as much about what the organization needs but about what would make an investment in their organization appealing to prospects. Perhaps it is allowing a designation in honor of a specific individual; perhaps the ask should come from a peer rather than a national volunteer; perhaps the appeal should recognize a specific segment of an organization rather than the more conventional and typical appeal on behalf of the overall organization. All of these are effective ways in which to keep the prospect's interests uppermost in the process.
  • A solid overall plan, as well as a method for evaluating returns. These components help determine that the staff's initial instincts were on target.
  • Research and good judgment to ascertain potential market segments to target, thus improving overall results. It is important to follow up on efforts with statistical analysis in order to confirm that instincts about a particular segment are correct. Remember, "You are not your audience"!

Stewardship and good planning are vital to the idea of a continuous lifetime giving program, a concept that more and more annual funds are adopting. This change in thinking involves ensuring that you are looking at the long term as well as the short term when planning an annual fund. What are you doing to move your current annual donors up the ladder? What strategies can you employ that will prove most advantageous to your program? By keeping these questions uppermost in your mind, the maximum possible benefit can be attained, both now and in the future. Remain tuned in to the needs, requests, and desires of your donors, and adapt your program accordingly. Such special efforts will go far toward encouraging initial contributions and ensuring continued allegiance over time.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Defining the Annual Campaign.

Preparing for the Annual Campaign.

Developing an Annual Giving Plan.

Segmenting Appeals.

Testing and Statistical Analysis.

Elements of the Annual Campaign.

Implementing a Direct Mail Campaign.

Sponsoring Special Events.

Telemarketing Your Cause.

Soliciting Funds in Person.

The Annual Fund in Action.

Key Program Roles and Responsibilities.

Working with Volunteers.

Promotions, Communications, and Marketing.

Gift Administration and Donor Appreciation.

Closing the Campaign and Moving Forward.


Preparing for the Annual Campaign.

Direct Appeal Program.

Annual Fund Solicitation Calendar.

Web Site Examples.

Elements of the Annual Campaign.

Annual Fund-Capital Campaign Combined Strategic Goals and Calendar.

Corporate Campaign Plan.

Corporate Matching Gift Companies.

Corporate Matching Gift Guidelines and Application Form.

The Annual Fund in Action.

Membership Program with Benefits.

University Annual Fund Analysis.

Annual Fund Survey.

Direct Mail Solicitation Package.

Gala Event Sample Invitation and Program.

Sales and Raffle Event Promotion.

"A-Thon" Event Packages.

"A-Thon" Team Captain's Kit and Supplies.

Entertainment and Show Publicity Pieces.

Outing Registration Letter and Materials.

Special Events Planning Checklists.

Sample Telemarketing Scripts for Lapsed Donors.

Telemarketing Objection Packet.

Code of Ethics Samples.

Fundraising Guidebook.

Case Statement Examples.

Newsletter Sample.

Gift Receipt Templates.

Gift Agreement Template.

Post-Campaign Assessment Report.

Final Report.



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