Are Your Donors Bored with Your Annual Campaign? Time for a Makeover!

business-plan-makeoverBy Nanette Fridman and Jennifer Weinstock

Do you ever feel like you are boring your donors? Or boring yourself? Not excited about your end of year mailing that you always do? You may have built a successful annual fund campaign, but it feels kind of stale. Here are six ideas for freshening up your annual campaign:

  1. Change the name! Instead of the “Jewish Organization Annual Campaign,” try asking people to support the Excellence Fund, the Atid Fund, the Promise Campaign, Fund the Change Campaign, the Masoret Campaign, the Tomorrow & Today Fund or the Cornerstone Campaign etc.! Whatever will make people notice something new and provide inspiration beyond “Annual Campaign.”
  2. Get Creative with Your Collateral! Think beyond pictures and glossies to multi-media presentations, videos and recordings. Take risks with your graphics. Don’t be afraid to change things up. What is the infographic of tomorrow? Use short 30 second videos that can shock the market. Who is giving and why? Try a donor testimonial video marketing campaign. Your board members are more likely to share a 30 second video than forward your glossy brochure.
  3. Make Your Message Current! With the historic election behind us, talk about values front and center. What are your organization’s values and how can philanthropy support and align with them? Give people an opportunity to affirm or reflect their own values by supporting you. Or perhaps, your organization has a significant milestone year or occasion to anchor or tie to your message.
  4. Spotlight Your Leadership! Annual funds happen yearly but leaders change. Tell your donors who is leading your efforts and why. Recognize long time volunteers and donors. Let leaders pick fun props or accessories like special hats or pins or socks to have fun with and keep people talking.
  5. Ask for More than Money! In addition to their gift, ask your donors for one word that describes what your organization means to them. When you send thank you notes, show a word cloud or the most common responses or reference their answer in your reply.
  6. Invite Them To Social Media! If you aren’t already, ask your donors automatically when they contribute online or in your letter or email to champion your organization by letting others know that they care enough to give on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat or LinkedIn. Make your donors into social media ambassadors with a customized hashtag.

Nonprofits rely on dependable, unrestricted annual giving. Dependable does not have to mean boring! Play with your philanthropy!

Nanette Fridman, MPP, JD, is founder and principal of Fridman Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, financial resource development, governance and leadership coaching for nonprofits. She is the author of On Board: What Current and Aspiring Board Members Must Know About Nonprofits & Board Service. Nanette can be reached at

Jennifer Weinstock is the Director of Development at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA and a Wexner Field Fellow. Jennifer can be reached at