Musings on Anniversaries

Why do charities make such a fuss about their anniversaries?  Sure, it makes sense from the inside–having survived by one’s wits for x number of years is an achievement deserving of celebration–but why should anybody on the outside care? 

Charities generally treat anniversaries as fundraising opportunities, but it’s not clear why.  In this society we give people gifts for their birthdays, not for their anniversaries–unless they also happen to be our anniversaries.  But perhaps it seems too crude to say, "It’s our birthday, please give us presents!" so "anniversary" is a fundraising euphemism on the order of saying "planned giving" when we mean, "When you die, can we have your money?"

Or maybe "anniversary" is the right term, provided it’s directed at the right audience.  I’m feeling my way here, but perhaps it’s possible to persuade current donors that what you’re celebrating is the anniversary of their wedding–to the cause. 

If that’s the goal, forget the anniversary publication and the gala event and the futile search for press attention ("Another anniversary?" says the city editor, throwing your press release away).  Instead, use the anniversary year to take each of your major donors out to dinner in turn and talk about the accomplishments of your partnership with them.  Start with Board members: they’d be too embarrassed to say "It’s not my anniversary!" and will thus be compelled to cough up a present.

Anniversaries of institutions, like those of weddings, are occasions for people who are already in love to do something extra-special.  (As, Josh getting Donna flowers on the anniversary of her returning to work for him–"for I am a man of occasion!")  They’re important to remember but let’s not confuse them with national holidays.


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