5 Keys to Successful Annual Campaigns
Creating a solid base of supporters is necessary for any organization that wants to fulfill its mission, as annual-campaign donors support the work the organization is doing in that year but also are a solid group of people the organization can turn to when doing special fundraising efforts like capital campaigns.
In her book, “Beyond Fundraising: New Strategies for Nonprofit Innovation and Investment,” fundraising consultant, speaker and facilitator Kay Sprinkel Grace dedicates a chapter to the role of annual campaigns in garnering community support.
Annual campaigns — campaigns that take place all year round — are designed to provide ongoing funds to the organization and keep it visible in the community. A key role of annual campaigns, Grace writes, is “to ensure that periods of scarcity in earned or grant income are countered by annual fund programs that will raise the needed funds.”
Therefore, the first thing she advises development staff do is come up with an “annual giving cycle” — a calendar that maps out when annual campaigns and the organization’s other fundraising efforts will occur, helping to manage cash flow.
Some of the key elements Grace says are necessary to have a successful annual campaign are:
1. Board leadership. “The building of the kind of long-term relationships that enable organizations to go beyond fundraising begins with board leadership of the annual fund,” Grace writes. The board should be a part of reviewing the prospect list, the goal, recruitment of solicitation teams and campaign wrap-up.
2. Volunteer participation. Volunteer solicitation teams should consist of community members with a vested interest in the organization (including former board members and committed donors).
3. A realistic, but challenging financial goal. Grace says too often the annual campaign goal is viewed as a “plug” figure, in that “whatever projected expenses cannot be met through earned income, endowment income or a capital fund drive that may be planned or underway are ‘plugged’ into the annual giving goal.”