I’ve helped dozens of performing arts organizations with annual fund campaigns. Sometimes my services are called upon when the goal’s already been established, and that makes me rightfully nervous. My first question is: how did you establish the goal? Sometimes I hear this methodology: we’ve figured out the gap and that’s our annual fund goal. Or, “last year we raised 6% over the prior year, so we’re aiming for 9% this year.” And then there’s my favorite, “the CEO set the goal” goal.
Setting goals through arithmetic alone is a bad idea. Here’s the annual fund creed you need to post in big letters across the development department: One Face but Two Names.
Put another way, you’ve got to look at the ratio of prospects to donors when setting the
annual fund goal. Simply determine how many donors you’ll need to achieve your goal, then multiply that number by two – think of it as one face but two names. If the goal is $2M, for example, you’ll need $4M worth of prospects. These can be renewals, upgrades, or new donors. It sounds easy and pragmatic, but organizations often stray from this critical metric when they can’t balance the budget – and end up basing the goal on what they need instead what can realistically be achieved.
- Start the planning process at the beginning of the fiscal year. Thoughtful planning, not active desperation, is the reconciliation to the arithmetic problem. Putting your organization through the rigors of a sound process allows you to adjust your strategy and establish budgets and goals based on what the planning process says, not what the institution needs.
- Engage volunteers to help supply new prospects. After rating your prospects, categorizing them in the right giving club, factoring in donor attrition, and identifying which ones you can upgrade (just don’t count them twice), can help you determineearly on whether you need more names. Then, enlist the help of well-trained volunteers; they’re a valuable resource for helping you find more potential contributors.
- Adjust your strategy as appropriate. Maybe it’s a bigger challenge grant, modifying your timing, or changing your message. Just make sure your strategies are always aligned to achieving your goals, and you’ll be well on your way to executing a fiscally responsible annual fund campaign.
If you would like to engage RSC to learn how to evaluate and set up a successful Annual Fund to meet your fundraising goals, call us today at 317.300.4443 or visit our website.