Annual Giving’s seat at the table

Annual Giving professionals are the lead generators who fuel prospect pipeline and make big fundraising goals attainable. But – sometimes our annual giving friends share that they feel like an overlooked piece of the puzzle. On this episode of TrueTalk, Megan Rajski and EverTrue’s Hannah Davis explore what keeps annual giving professionals up at night, the annual giving wishlist, and why annual giving always deserves a seat at the table. 

Megan Rajski is the Director of Annual Giving at Fairfield University. Over the course of her career, she has worked on advancement teams of 400 and 40. She has overseen the telefund, direct marketing, social media strategy, crowdfunding, giving days, giving pages, and just about everything in between. 

Like all annual giving pros, Megan’s experience is varied, but there’s one theme that rings true: She knows how much of a difference a strong annual giving team can make. 

We agree. At EverTrue, we always say that annual giving teams are our people. We have so much in common:

  • Everything we do is driven by data.
  • We are always testing out new things.
  • We talk to tons of different people across different departments/industries
  • We know how to gather quick data on what works and what doesn’t.
  • We constantly report out on our work. And iterate.

Reflecting on her experience wearing the many hats of annual giving, Megan shares some pretty cool insights. She talks about how QR codes are having a renaissance. She brainstorms about how we engage the alums that have been overlooked and left out of traditional engagement models, like historically underrepresented groups of alums, alums who got their degree online, and young alums (social media engagement and micro campaigns are key).

Megan has a background working in sales and she draws some important parallels between sales and annual giving work. Notably, timing of outreach is important. Polite persistence is a necessity. Messaging has to be personalized, even though it’s sent en masse. 

Importantly, Megan points out that annual giving folks are the connectors of an advancement shop. They work closely with alumni relations, major gifts, donor relations, advancement services, marketing & communications, and leadership. As a result, their skillsets are diverse, their institutional knowledge runs deep, and their relationships across the division keep the trains moving. 

When annual giving folks share their valuable on-the-ground perspective, we’re all ears. We especially loved Megan’s “annual giving wishlist,” which looks something like this:

  1. All the data. All the clean data. And a more robust data reporting tool to help mine that data and make use of it. 

  2. Increasing funding and support for annual giving departments, including investments in tech tools to make scalable outreach possible, and people to put the tools to work. 

  3. A seat at every table.

Take 8 minutes and catch into Megan’s full episode of TrueTalk: Annual Giving’s seat at the table.  

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