Strong Annual Giving Jump-Starts Major Campaigns
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
- Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is known as a politician, diplomat, journalist and inventor. But he was also an early American fundraiser and philanthropist, so his advice rings especially true to fundraising professionals.
If you embark on a major campaign without being fully prepared, you're likely to fail.
We've been discussing the essential ingredients in preparing for a major campaign. Our final benchmark is a strong annual fund.
Fundraising is both an art and science. It's an art because it involves relationships, and since all people are different, a skilled fundraiser must sense and adapt to the ever-changing desires and goals of each prospect.
Conversely, fundraising is a science because giving follows predictable and projectable patterns. We can research and project how many qualified (cultivated) prospects you will need to succeed in a campaign.
So without a pool of existing donors who recommit to your mission each year though annual giving, it's difficult to jump to a major campaign — either a capital endowment or comprehensive campaign.
Before embarking on a major campaign, take time to fine-tune your annual giving by asking these questions:
- Is your annual fund growing in donors and dollars?
- Are you upgrading donors?
- Do you have a major-gift focus?
- Are you focused on donor retention?
- Do you have a plan and process for the annual fund that gives confidence in your ability to manage a major campaign?
- Do you have strategies for donor acquisition?
- Is there a volunteer component in the annual campaign?
Throughout this conversation, we have been looking at the essential ingredients for major-campaign success:
- Strong leadership
- Successful programs
- Dynamic strategic planning
- Financial strength
- Engaging case for support
- Growing annual support
As another early American inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, said, "Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.