Here’s my thinking….
Nonprofits raise money for 2 things: (1) Running the organization. (2) Some special project.
- Running the organization means every single cost required to carry out your mission. Staff. Management systems. Service/program development, design, evaluation, improvements, facility costs like utilities, mortgage, cleaning/maintenance, lawn mowing, whatever.
- Some special project means: Building an endowment. Facility capital costs, e.g., renovations, new building, whatever.
Sure, use the phrase “capital campaign” for that special project.
Sure, name your endowment campaign “Building for the Future” or whatever you want.
BUT STOP IT STOP IT with “The Annual Fund.” Geez…. 40 years ago I made letterhead that said: “Trinity Rep Annual Fund.” How dumb was I. Boring!! Maybe I could have called it “Trinity Rep Operating Support Fund So We Can Keep Doing Plays.”
NO NEED FOR A TITLE!!!! Internally we talk about raising money for the fiscal year budget to cover all the costs to run the theatre and hire actors and build sets and perform plays and and and …. That’s what we raised money for every single year. That fiscal year budget to continue our mission.
Presumably every organization raises this money. Every single organization uses every appropriate solicitation strategy and reaches out to all appropriate audiences.
- Sources of gifts are: Individuals. Foundations. Government. Corporations. Faith groups. Civic groups. You check with every single particular source to see what they give to…. running the organization or some special project. Anything else to add?
- Solicitation strategies are: Personal face-to-face solicitation. Direct mail (print or electronic). Telephone. Proposals/grantwriting. Fundraising events. Can you think of anything else to add?
Here’s what I recommend to all my fundraising clients and what I put in every single fundraising plan for that annual operating/mission/purpose/existence that a nonprofit has:
Segment all donors by solicitation strategy:
- Who will staff and board members personally meet with and ask for a gift from. When I worked at Trinity Rep, I had 75 volunteers who personally solicited annual operating gifts every single year. Given how much I give to my Planned Parenthood affiliate, I expect a personal solicitation to support annual operations. (Yes, many fundraisers and organizations call this major gift solicitation. I find that so offensive I want to scream! Because major gift donors implies there are minor gifts and minor donors.)
- But neither Trinity Rep nor PPSNE talked about annual operations. We told stories about plays and students and favorite actors…And education programs about sex and saving men and women from HIV/AIDS and breast cancer and primary care and….
- Who will receive direct mail letters? And this donor segment may receive 3-4 letters/fiscal year … even after they’ve already given. Different stories resonate with different people. And some people respond to more than one direct mail letter. So cool!
- And pretty much everyone receives an invitation to the fundraising event.
- And on and on…
All my fundraising plans include using every solicitation strategy — and of course a comprehensive relationship-building program.
This is all just for annual operations, our mission.
And then the special campaign for the building or the van to hall kids or or??? We figure out which donors and how to solicit. And sure, there’s a name and maybe even special letterhead and whatever.
So all that’s my thinking. Great fundraisers tell stories about beneficiaries and donors, too. Great fundraisers segment the market for solicitation strategies. Great fundraisers avoid language that is unclear and kinda icky and has no emotional content and is unclear and confusing and…
Okay. Back to work. Getting ready to head to Saskatoon for the Western Canada Fundraising Conference 2019. Thank you David and Christal. Thank you Common Good Fundraising.