My five or so years in “the biz” of fundraising has led me to believe that who to include in the annual report is a hot topic. Paper isn’t cheap, so you want to use the pages of your publication wisely. On top of that, the annual report is much more than a report – it’s a tool. It’s a tool to encourage those who gave to give again; those who didn’t give to give; and those who gave some to give more.
With all that in mind, what do you do?
My personal opinion, for what it’s worth, is to include everyone. Yes, absolutely there are limits to this, but if you can – include everyone. As a young person, I focus a lot of thought, research, and attention to young people and their capacity to give, their knowledge of philanthropy, and what drives them to make a donation. So when I think about the annual report, I think about a young alumnus (in the case of educational fundraising). I think about a young alumnus making a gift of $25 and thinking, “This is all I can manage at this point. I hope it can make a difference.” And of course, if the alumnus told that to us fundraisers, we’d say, “Absolutely it makes a difference! Every dollar counts!” But then what if they look at the annual report and see that only people who made gifts of $1,000+ are listed? What will they feel about their $25 gift then? Will they think it matters?
And, of course, this doesn’t only apply to young donors – it applies to anyone under that $1,000 mark.
Yes, the idea of excluding those who gave under $1,000 is to encourage them to give that bit more to get them in the report. But let’s look back at what I said the annual report is a tool for: to encourage those who gave to give again; those who didn’t give to give; and those who gave some to give more.
How do we encourage those who gave to give again? We recognize their gift by listing them in the report.
How do we encourage those who didn’t give to give? We show every single gift from $0.01+ in the report so that those who didn’t give see that they’ll get recognition no matter what they give.
How do we encourage those who gave some to give more? This is the only one for which perhaps only including gifts of $1,000+ encourages giving. But there’s another way – we all have them – giving societies. The donor who gave $1-$999 could easily be encouraged to give more when they see if they give $1,000, they’ll be part of another society. No, it’s not a surefire way to encourage a larger gift next year, but it could work.
As far as I can see, you can’t lose by listing every gift in the annual report. What do you think? Do you passionately disagree? Share your thoughts! I can’t wait to see the debate!
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.