The Fundraiser’s Guide to the Annual Fund
One of the most important revenue streams your nonprofit organization can have is the annual fund. The annual fund is defined as an organized effort to obtain gifts on a yearly basis to support, at least in part, general operations of a nonprofit organization. While it doesn’t have the flash of a fancy gala or the concrete goals of a capital campaign, the annual fund is a consistent reminder to folks of the importance of your mission. Developing a well thought out and multi-year approach to your annual fund will mean more donors and greater flexibility in your day to day work.
At Z2 Systems, Inc. we absolutely understand the importance of this important revenue stream and will be rolling out a series of blog posts dedicated to using your NeonCRM in getting the most out of your annual fund. We’ll be bringing you concrete ways to turn your database into a lean, mean fundraising machine. Our team has years of fundraising experience and we’ll also bring you great examples from current Neon users.
So what’s the best thing you can do to get your annual fund rolling? Plan it from the end of the campaign to the beginning. That’s right, start at the END!
What is the goal of your annual fund? Not just a monetary goal but also the reasons why it exists in the first place. Conduct a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis of your organization’s goals and objectives, involving all your major stakeholders. Not just your staff but your board members, your volunteers, and the folks directly impacted by your work.
If you have never undertaken an annual fund before or have limited experience, first develop a plan to create infrastructure that can be re-used the next year. Develop the year’s goal then break that into quarterly and monthly goals. Work backwards from the conclusion of the campaign to when you want to launch it. If you have more experience with an annual fund, hopefully we can provide some additional helpful tips.
Identify the major players in your annual fund. While I was overseeing the annual fund for a private school here in Chicago, one of the important reasons for success was that we created an annual fund committee that touched on every stakeholder in our community. Try to draw from your own community and create a committee make up of folks who are not on your board of directors.
Once you’ve set your goals and assembled your team, identify the tools and resources you’ll need to effectively roll out the annual fund. Will you be sending thank you acknowledgements with a special header or letterhead? Does your organization have a gift acceptance policy in place? Have you identified the people in your organization who are in charge of the day to day work of the annual fund? Make a check list and identify benchmarks for success.
Write down your plan! Make sure it’s not a plan that sits on the shelf but a dynamic document that is revisited quarterly. Then you’re ready to start the real work.
We’ll be covering a ton in the coming weeks, so here’s a look into what’s to come from the Z2 Systems, Inc. team:
- Setting up your annual fund for success
- Making the perfect ask for your annual fund
- Great stewardship from day one
- Explaining the end of the year appeals process
- Getting and retaining major donors
- Pledges - investing in your success
- You’ve had success! Now what to do at the end of the year?
- Reporting on your success
- How to avoid donor fatigue
- And more!
Got a question, comment, criticism, or concern? We’re here to listen, we’re here to help, and we’re here to learn. Leave something below or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to continuing the conversation!