I’ve been ranting about this for years and years.
No emotional content. Meaningless. (And back in the 80s, I even had letterhead that said “Trinity Rep Annual Fund.” How dumb was I?)
I ask people what they mean by “annual fund.” Mostly the answer is: “Our annual direct mail letter.” WTF? One annual direct mail letter? For your DM segment, you ought to be sending multiple different “themed” letters.
I ask about the fundraising events the organization is doing to raise general operating support for the year. Mostly people kinda stare at me. Or say, “Oh.”
I ask fundraisers if they do personal face-to-face solicitation each year for annual operating support. Mostly fundraisers respond with, “Oh. That’s major gift solicitation.” (And I HATE the term “major gift solicitation.” And too many organizations don’t personally solicit face-to-face for a portion of their donors.)
STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!! Instead, segment the donor/prospect market via solicitation strategies. Is anything missing from the list below?
- Personal face-to-face solicitation.
- Direct mail (electronic and print).
- Telephone (Yes, some organizations still do this!)
- Proposals (grantwriting to foundations, corporations, whatever).
- Special events (ticket sales, sponsorship requests)
- Telethon…like on TV
THE ANNUAL FUND? STOP IT NOW!!!!!! NGOs raise charitable gifts for special projects outside of general operations. Your nonprofit raises money to support endowment…or a building. BUT MOSTLY, you raise money to support general operations, which includes program and the dread overhead.
So the “annual fund” means all the solicitation strategies and all the sources of gifts and everything you do for that particular fiscal year…to operate… to do your important work… to help your beneficiaries… to fulfill the aspirations of your donors… And so forth.
STOP IT. JUST STOP IT. There is no such thing as “the annual fund.” It’s too silly and too dumb and and and ……….. And yes. I’m grumpy today.