A Look into Leadership Annual Gifts with UGA’s Central Annual Giving Team

by Joey Lynn

Soliciting leadership annual gifts can be tough – even when we aren’t facing a pandemic. Despite the circumstances, universities across the country are finding innovative ways to solicit and engage alumni and donors. Like true Bulldogs, we sic ‘em and persevere. I’ve compiled a list of best practices to solicit leadership annual gifts.

What is a leadership annual gift (LAG)?

Leadership annual gifts represent the middle ground between a “regular” annual donation and a major gift. Generally, a major gift to UGA is over $25,000, while “regular” annual gifts are under $1,499. Therefore, LAGs are usually between $1,500 and $25,000. The caveat, though, is that every annual giving program at UGA is different.  



How does Central Annual Giving manage leadership donors?

Many fundraisers assume it is a best practice to place a LAG plan on every donor that annually gives between $1,500 and $25,000. While that might be effective in some cases, it’s not necessarily the best approach. Knowing which records to place a LAG plan on is largely a matter of context and subjective decision making. There aren’t hard and fast rules to decide which donors get a LAG plan, so a balanced, mixed approach is useful for most development officers.  

 An important point to note is that most leadership donors can renew their gift each year through the phone program or email and direct mail solicitations. Once an opportunity is placed on the donor’s record through a plan, however, they are excluded from central solicitations. Before creating the plan, make sure you will commit to it. There’s no harm in allowing the donor to be solicited through direct mail a time or two before attempting personal outreach. This strategy gives you the flexibility to adjust your fundraising strategy throughout the year and focus on what the data tells you. 

3 tips to maximize your unit’s LAG efforts:

  1. Consider context. It’s not always practical for leadership-level giving to start at $1,500. Context matters. Ultimately, the concept of leadership annual giving exists to grow your donor and dollar pipeline, which doesn’t work if the parameters don’t fit your program. For instance, if only two of your donors give $1,500 or more, it makes sense to decrease your leadership threshold to include more donors at a lower level. 
  2. Be strategic. When deciding whether to create a LAG plan, be thoughtful about your approach rather than relying on an inflexible set of rules. 
  3. Keep up with opportunities and plans. You are solely responsible for soliciting a donor’s gift if you place a LAG plan on them. 


Questions, comments, or concerns? Just want to talk shop about leadership annual giving? I would love to hear your thoughts – email me at ude.agu@nnylwhpesoj