Does Your Annual Fundraising Feel Tired? Try These 5 Capital Campaign Strategies
Do you ever wish you had a new way of thinking about your annual fundraising? Does it feel tired and old?
We’ve got some suggestions for you taken right out of the capital campaign playbook that we’ve seen work again and again.
Warning: Capital campaign fundraising is not same old, same old business as usual. Instead, it’s exciting and demanding and special. That’s what makes it work.
So, if you want to jump-start your annual fundraising using campaign strategies, you’ve got to be willing to try some new things. Here are five capital campaign strategies we think can be very effective for your annual fundraising this year:
1. Plan by donor level—banish planning in activity silos.
Stop planning in silos. If you’re like most people, your annual fund plans each of the activities you do to raise money every year as though they were independent.
Instead, create a gift range chart—you know, the donor pyramid you always see associated with capital campaigns—and plan your annual fundraising based on donors levels, not on activities.
Make a plan for your lead donors, your mid-level donors and finally the broad base.
You’ll still do many of the same activities, but you’ll think about them differently!
2. Focus on impact, not on 'general operating.'
Stop focusing on money and get laser-focused on impact! Whatever you do, don’t focus your annual fundraising on “gen-op.” No one is excited about general operating expenses.
We know you want unrestricted money to pay for all of the budgeted expenses. But focus on what your organization is going to accomplish, on the difference it will make in the world.
And highlight one or two specific programs or projects each year.
3. Use ad hoc committees instead of relying on your development committee.
It’s great to have an active development committee, but don’t rely entirely on them for all of your annual fund work. Have them work on planning, policies and higher level stuff.
Each year, pull in some new, fired-up volunteers to serve on small, ad hoc committees to help with your lead and major gift solicitation.
In fact, you can enlist several small ad hoc committees to work on different aspects of your annual fundraising.
4. Create a collective giving goal with your board, then solicit them individually.
Work with your board to come up with a collective goal and set a timeline for reaching it. And discuss the contribution of every board member early in the year.
Be sure that your board chair and/or development committee chair actually take the time to meet with each board member to solicit their gift.
Don’t give your board members a pledge form at a meeting and ask them to fill it out with no context and no board giving goal!
5. Communicate and celebrate with zest! In other words, don’t be boring.
Celebrate and communicate just about everything. Do them both in little and big ways.
Let people in on where you are. Let them know when a big gift comes in. Keep track of progress. Be willing to share disappointments. Ask for help when you need it.
If volunteers and staff feel great about their work on your annual fund, they’ll do more and do it better.
Want to Raise More Money Annually? Here’s What it Takes.
Raising more money takes will, courage and energy. And that starts with you.
If you want to raise more money annually, buckle up, find the courage to make some changes in the status quo and try out some strategies that work for campaign after campaign.
You’ll find that your energy and these changes in approach will breathe new life into what may feel like a tiresome drag.
And when you breathe new life into your work, your donors will feel the energy too, and you will raise more money.
What sort of things have you tried to energize your annual fundraising? Let us know in the comments.
Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.