Three Practices Trending In Development

By: Nancy E. Peterman, Partner

Those of us who have been in the field of development for more than 25 years have seen various ideas come in and out of vogue.  There are other strategies that are a variations of a past practice.  Here are three that are trending today:

1) Day of Giving:  This strategy was popular many years ago, when some communities were promised to be solicited only on one day.  With multiple competing charities in a community, it made sense that each organization would select one day to solicit.  One such university fundraising program, which has persisted throughout the years, is still affectionately still referred to as the “A Day” campaign, although their development operation now operates year-round.  Social media has made the “Day of Giving” popular again, but with a twist. For many, it is a way of reaching younger donors, who are savvy on-line uses, and less responsive to direct mail, phone or even email.  Most organization use the “Day of Giving” as an opportunity to set a specific goal for that particular “day.”  Many turn the “Day of Giving” into a mini-campaign with advance solicitations that will be added to the final days’ total.

2)  Multi-Year Annual Fund Pledges: By its very definition, annual giving meant just that—a gift paid in the year it was pledged.  A multi-year pledge was considered appropriate for a capital campaign, but never for the annual giving program.  Some gift officers would recoil from this idea, and many databases managers did not write reports for multi-year annual fund gifts.  If the gift was not paid before the end fiscal year occurred, it was written off with no additional attempt made by the staff to collect the outstanding balance.  Declines in donor retention rates and in landline numbers, coupled with a growing alumni base, were factors that led to this practice.  The justification that it is more efficient to ask each donor to consider pledging over three to five years outweighs not being able to ask for an increased gift each year.

3) The Generalist:  Specialization is the norm at most institutions that have more than one front line development officer.   Included are those who appear best suited for and experienced in only one of the following: major gifts, corporate and foundation relations, annual fund, and principal gifts.  But, recently we are seeing major gift officers who also have a planned giving goal, and annual fund officers, who make several major gift solicitations each year.  For regional officers, asking for annual fund, major, and planned gifts has become common.  Recently, I met with the gift planning officer for my alma mater at his request.  Although I wasn’t ready to make a planned gift, he noted that I had not made an annual fund gift that year.  He very graciously said that he would be delighted to take that pledge for me.  And yes, it was a multi-year annual fund pledge.