Your not-for-profit’s lifeblood is the Annual Fund; it provides the support required to enhance your organization’s reputation, attract and retain donors, meet fundraising goals and sustain the operation and maintenance of operations.
The success of your Annual Fund campaign is determined by four fundamental elements of fundraising:
- Case for Support
- Donor Prospects
- Fundraising Plan
Each is integral to reaching – or even exceeding – your Annual Fund goal. Planning for these elements should take place near the end of your fiscal year, so that come the beginning of the new fiscal year, the infrastructure is in place to jump right in!
1. Case for Support
The Annual Fund Case for Support must provide a compelling rationale for how funds will leverage your infrastructure to meet the needs of clients and the community you serve.
- Data: Many donors appreciate the use of data to communicate how you are earning and spending money. What are your organization’s current sources of revenue and expenses? How can the annual fund help to bridge the gap between core funding and the cost of delivering your services? Presenting hard data supports the role of the Annual Fund in a clear and compelling way.
- Images: Pictures of your clients engaging in projects or programs is a great way to visually support your case. Pictures should capture various programs and events to showcase all that you have to offer.
- Testimonials: Personal testimonials from community members, clients you have served or volunteers underscore the impact of your organization. Quotes should be incorporated into the case to provide a personal touch that will resonate with donors.
The case for support should be developed at the end of the fiscal year, once all Annual Fund data from the year has been generated. This way, the Development Office may share the case with donors at the onset of the upcoming year.
A successful Annual Fund needs great leadership. It’s necessary to recruit a Fund Development Committee to work closely with the Development Office and Board to spearhead the campaign. The Fund Development Committee will serve as ambassadors of the Annual Fund to the community; in essence, they are the face and voice of the campaign.
Typically, the majority of an organization’s Annual Fund is compromised from past donors. Therefore, special emphasis should be placed on cultivating these donors. Focus on engaging current donors and strengthening your culture of giving by articulating the benefits of supporting the Annual Fund.
Ensuring you have a strong and well thought-out fundraising plan is vital to a successful Annual Fund. Develop a comprehensive calendar and tactical plan that outlines the timeline for cultivation events and solicitations. Make sure your plan includes any necessary preparation for follow up. You want to leave your donors feeling proud to have made a gift to your organization and inspired to make one again!
Having a clear and compelling case, engaged leadership, ample pool of prospective donors, and comprehensive plan are key elements for a successful Annual Fund. With these tools, your Annual Fund is poised for success!