Annual Fund: It’s closer than you think
With the end of summer comes the beginning of annual fund, and the pressures that each annual fund season brings. Segmentation, personalization, participation, motivation. Email, direct mail, social media, mobile media. Increase dollars. Increase donors. Everyone needs and wants results to be bigger and better than last year’s—all achieved within a limited budget.
During these summer months, how can you prepare for annual fund season in a way that will decrease stress and improve results? We suggest an approach that has been successful for a number of our clients: create a communications plan specifically for your annual fund. First, establish a central theme from which all messages will be shaped—this will form the core of your plan. Then segment your audiences and customize messages for each segment. Specify the kinds of distribution you’ll use each month, from September through June—email, direct mail, social media, mobile media and other engagement methods.
One of the key elements of the plan is the annual fund theme. The theme acts as the motivator, the hook that grabs your audience’s attention. You’ll need time to discover what motivates your target audiences (why they give and to what areas) and what your institution’s needs are (more funds for scholarships, faculty development, curriculum updates, library technology, campus upgrades). Taken together, these two things—your institution’s needs and your audience’s interests—can be used to create a theme that will inspire action.
Once you’ve established your plan, we recommend creating a graphic that represents the core theme. Develop this graphic so that it can be easily applied to all communications, establishing a distinct, recognizable initiative. With your theme, messages, graphic look, segmentation and distribution defined for the year, you’ll be ready to take on your annual fund season. Over the course of the next nine months, your plan will enable you to create multiple, consistent, motivating appeals without the stress of inventing each appeal as a separate entity.
The outcomes: less stress, more efficiency, improved results.
Check out some of the annual fund initiatives we’ve developed:
D’Fund Facts: Dartmouth College Fund
EveryOne Counts: The Bentley Fund
Everyday Extraordinary: BB&N; Annual Fund
(MIT 10)5: Power of Participation Challenge
The summer is a perfect time to create your annual fund plan. Interested? Call us at 978-287-5535 x202, and we’ll be happy to help you jump-start your fundraising season.