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Annual giving is one of the most important areas in an organization’s fundraising efforts. Annual giving consists of many separate solicitation vehicles. When these vehicles are assembled together with skill, they can form the foundation of the institution’s philanthropic support.
The entire structure of the charitable giving process is presented graphically with the diagram of a pyramid. When the process is successful, the donors will move from annual giving to major gifts and then to estate or planned giving, but only if the foundation of the pyramid is firmly in place, well-aligned, and able to carry the added weight placed on it. A university or non-profit organization builds upward as it prepares for its future. Annual giving programs are needed to make that upward structuring possible.
Annual giving is about donor acquisition, repeating the gift and upgrading the gift. Annual giving creates the habit of giving on a regular yearly basis. Donors who have consistently contributed annually over a certain period of time eventually make much larger major gifts or even planned giving, like bequests, later in life.
Methods to raise annual giving support include: direct mail solicitations, telemarketing ("phonathons"), e-solicitations, and sometimes major "asks".
Most medium to large non-profit development departments have at least one director of annual giving, while smaller non-profits combine the annual giving position with the director of alumni relations position.