5 Steps for Launching a Successful Annual Giving Campaign
At CyberGrants, one of the biggest challenges that we see our customers face is employee participation in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programming. Whether it’s lack of program knowledge, inability to give to causes they align with, or time and monetary restraints, there are dozens of reasons your employees aren’t getting involved. And while there are several ways to engage employees in workplace giving, annual programs have countless benefits. From donor engagement and retention to leadership development and increased impact, there’s no shortage of reasons why you should invest.
While annual giving programs are proven to support both your community and your business, implementing and executing them can seem overwhelming. In this blog, we outline five steps for launching a successful annual giving campaign at your organization. Plus, we even include some key resources—from communications templates to evaluation checklists—that are guaranteed to make it even easier for you to execute a successful initiative.
Step 1: Determine Your Approach
When it comes to annual giving programs, the possibilities are endless! As a CSR leader, there are no shortage of days, causes, or organizations to align your program with. Although there are dozens of ways to position your campaign, most programs fall within three categories; community-driven, point-in-time, or United Way. To help you implement a campaign that best aligns with your business and its needs, let’s explore how each of these programs differs.
Aligning annual giving campaigns with local causes is a great way to create a positive impact on the communities where your business operates. These programs are most effective when your company understands the specific needs of the community and can tailor programming to address them effectively and sustainably. You can support the same cause each year or select a new cause affecting your communities year after year.
When you align your annual giving campaign with national holidays or awareness months like Juneteenth, Pride, or Hispanic Heritage Month, you demonstrate to employees that your company is committed to building a culture centered on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). You can rally your workforce around the same holiday each year or you can select a new one annually.
United Way campaigns are annual workplace giving programs that bring together employees, businesses, and community organizations to support local nonprofits and address pressing social issues. These campaigns are a great option for businesses just getting started with annual giving as they are hosted and managed by United Way and support organizations that are carefully vetted to ensure they are effectively addressing community needs.
Step 2: Select a Program
The choices don’t stop there! Once you’ve identified a campaign type—community-driven, point-in-time, or United Way—it’s time to select a program. Whether you want to anchor your efforts around employee giving or volunteering, there are so many ways to engage your workforce and incentivize participation. Below we’ve outlined three common programs to choose from.
- Matching Gifts: To double the impact of your employees’ donations, employ a dollar-for-dollar matching program. Matching programs offer a powerful opportunity to maximize impact and are proven to boost participation. But don’t just take our word for it—84% of donors say they’re more likely to give if a match is offered, and one in three donors indicate they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation.
- Charitable Spending Accounts: Make your program equitable and accessible for anyone by offering a charitable spending account. Provide your employees with a budget ($25, $50, $100, etc.), a list of eligible nonprofits or causes, and encourage them to take advantage of this benefit.
- Dollars 4 Doers: If your annual giving campaign is rooted in volunteerism, maximize your employees’ efforts by implementing a Dollars 4 Doers program. When an employee volunteers and logs their hours, match their time with a monetary donation to your nonprofit partner.
While these programs are a great starting point, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. For even more ideas, download our latest Impact Playbook focused on annual giving programs. Get your copy today and align your campaign with the best program for your business and its employees.
Step 3: Employee Alignment
Before you begin executing your program, it’s imperative to ensure you have employee buy-in and alignment. Don’t just assume that you know what causes your workforce wants to support or how they’d like to participate—ask them! Issue a company-wide survey asking your employees about the kind of giving program they’d be excited to participate in. From there, review the feedback and align your annual campaign with your employees’ interests and passions.
We’ve done the heavy lifting and created a sample survey to get you started. Download our Annual Giving Impact Playbook to access the survey and tailor it to your business and its needs.
Once you’ve reviewed your employees’ responses and analyzed their feedback, take their opinions into consideration as you select a campaign type and a program. For example, your company may offer an employee matching program throughout Hunger Action Month in September to support Feeding America. Or you may offer a company-wide day of service on Earth Day to pick up neighborhood litter.
Step 4: Stakeholder Buy-In
Now that you’ve leveraged employee feedback to select a campaign-type and a program, you’ll likely need to get buy-in from your executive leadership team. In most cases, these stakeholders are looking to understand the value of your proposed programming. To help you make your case, we’ve outlined five proven benefits of annual giving campaigns.
Engage First-Time Donors
While many of your employees may already incorporate giving and volunteering into their everyday lives, there’s always an opportunity to engage new donors. Annual giving campaigns are a simple and easy way for first-time givers to get involved. When executed effectively, your campaign will likely involve company-wide communications, leadership and management encouragement, and clearly defined steps and processes. As a result, your campaign will be impossible to ignore.
When your company builds a long-time partnership with a nonprofit organization or supports the same cause year after year, your employees are able to become deeply invested in the program. They’ll be eager to get involved each year and may even be willing to position themselves as internal advocates to encourage others to participate.
It’s no secret that CSR programs can provide employees with opportunities to develop and showcase their leadership skills in a meaningful way. And your annual giving campaign is no different! Identify employees who participate year after year and elect them to the planning committee or position them as program advocates. These experiences can help employees develop critical leadership skills such as communication, delegation, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Reliable Nonprofit Revenue
Annual giving programs are a key source of recurring revenue for nonprofits, providing a predictable stream of funding that helps organizations plan and budget for the year ahead. Long-term partnerships also allow corporations to better understand nonprofit needs so they can tailor their programs to fill a specific gap, which can result in greater social impact.
After giving back to the same cause or nonprofit each year, your company’s impact will be tremendous. This consistent support allows organizations to plan and invest in long-term initiatives, knowing that they can count on your company as a reliable partner. And when you measure and track your annual giving metrics, you can prove year-over-year growth to employees, investors, and other key stakeholders.
With these benefits in hand, you’ll be equipped to advocate for an annual giving program across all key stakeholder groups.
Step 5: Program Execution
Once you’ve secured buy-in from your leadership team, it's time to dive into the planning process. To begin, you'll need to define some key components of your program. For example, is there a budget? Is there a limited timeframe? How will you communicate the program to employees? Will you share your program with external stakeholders? You’ll need to answer these questions before implementing a successful program.
While these questions may seem overwhelming, the team at CyberGrants is here to help! With over 20 years of experience helping our customers implement and execute successful annual giving programs, we’ve put together a playbook filled with resources that will help you throughout the planning process.
When you download our Annual Giving Impact Playbook, you’ll receive:
- Program ideas and recommendations
- An employee interest survey
- A campaign strategy worksheet
- Email, landing page, and social media templates
- A communications checklist
- Campaign evaluation tips