The Fundraising Committee: Assessing the Annual Appeal

Office sceneJanuary brings a level of reality to many nonprofits. At most organizations the December push brings in the majority of annual giving. This month is the time to work on assessing the annual appeal and consider what you did right and wrong – whether you are staff or on the fundraising committee A deeper dive than whether or not it met financial expectations is required. Let’s look at what you can uncover:

The annual appeal by the numbers
What results should you be analyzing?

  • How much did you raise (okay that is a bit obvious but still necessary)?
  • How does that compare to your projections? To each of the last three years?
  • If you had no projections beyond “raising the same as last year” consider:
    • How many donors gave?
    • How many of those donors were new donors?
    • How many of those donors that were listed as previous donors gave in the previous year vs. 2 or 3 years before?
    • What was the percentage return on any mailing? (A ½ of 1 percent is still considered average results on prospect mailings to “never-evers”)
    • How many/what per cent of previous donors increased, decreased or gave the same as their last gift?
  • Were there any special, one-time gifts that effect this year’s numbers (or last year’s)?

What worked? It’s time to take a moment to appreciate your successes:

  • Did a new or different mailer get sent this year?
  • Did you initiate a new email campaign to phenomenal results?
  • Did you increase the number of stewardship “touches” to donors this year that did not focus on asking for donations?
  • Did you add a regular newsletter to your mix?

Little things can make a big difference. And taking the time to acknowledge what you did will help you determine what changes you would like to make for the coming year. Not everything has to be a drastic change but keeping everything the same will result in missing the opportunity to excite donors.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the “same thing each year and expecting a different result.”

What could/would you have done differently
Now that you know the results, should you have:

  • Focused more on retaining donors?
  • Done a series of follow up emails through December?
  • Met with more major donors throughout the year?
  • Created a mailer to attract new donors (and work to ensure they remain supporters?)
  • Created new ways to thank donors?

Assessing the annual appeal will help you learn your strengths and weaknesses with donors. And help you understand how you achieved—and may yet improve upon—that all important December appeal number.


Other articles in the Fundraising Committee series include:
The Fundraising Committee Experience

New Donors vs. SYBUNTs

Should Everyone Be a Fundraiser?