apital Campaign Definition: What is a Capital Campaign?

All nonprofit organizations have overhead for day-to-day operations. How will your nonprofit cover such expenses? Annual funds can help cover such expenses through the year, and many successful annual fund strategies begin with accurate donor data and cultivation.

To find out more, schedule an assessment with iWave and see how far your annual fund strategies can take you!

What Is an Annual Fund?

An annual fund is the pool of money that enables a nonprofit to continue running throughout the year. It’s like an ongoing fundraising campaign that keeps the lights on, so to speak. Any annual fund will be divided into an array of smaller strategies known as annual giving campaigns.

Your organization’s livelihood will depend on annual funds. Along with trying to contact new prospects, your annual fun will engage the donors who have already given to your nonprofit in the past. Nurturing these relationships is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your nonprofit.

Advertising Your Annual Giving Campaigns

One of the best ways to get the word out about your annual fund campaign is to create a webpage for it. The webpage should include:

  • An explanation of where donations go
  • A breakdown of why these funds matter
  • Updates about how the funds raised are used

When deciding whether to donate to a particular cause, people want to feel connected to the big picture. By clearly explaining the essential role your annual fund plays, you increase the likelihood that prospects will choose to contribute again and again.

What to Include

To lay out the goals of your annual fund, start by reiterating your organization’s mission and vision. This ensures prospective donors won’t need to go searching to learn about what you do. Along with this, you can incorporate details about what sets your nonprofit apart, such as your unique culture and the values you strive to exemplify.

Other items to include on your annual fund campaign webpage include:

  • All your annual fund goals for the year
  • An events calendar with more information about how to get involved
  • Your annual fund-specific online donation form

Once you’ve created a landing page for your annual fund campaign, be sure to incorporate it into all communications with your donor base. Not only does this save your prospects from doing extra work, but it also makes it easy for them to spread the word to other potential donors.

Digging into Prospect Research

For the most part, larger gifts will comprise a greater portion of your annual fund than smaller gifts. This is where prospect research comes into play. Knowing how much each donor can give will help you determine who to focus your efforts on. Some of the key details you’ll want to consider as part of your wealth screening include:

  • Biographical information
  • Wealth indicators
  • Giving history

iWave offers fully customizable prospect research software that puts you in control of the numbers. No two nonprofits or fundraising goals are the same, and you’ll have the power to mold iWave to your needs. 

Analyzing Child Campaigns

Since an annual fund campaign extends over the course of an entire year, it helps to break it up into what are known as child campaigns. These are more specific campaigns connected to the larger aims of your annual fund.

Through these more narrowly defined campaigns, you can gain additional insights into what motivates and inspires your donors, which will guide you towards the best method of engaging them.

Collect & Maintain Accurate Data

Every donor is unique and should be approached as such. In your pool of contributors, you will likely have a combination of one-time givers and recurring donors, as well as:

  • Major gift givers
  • Past contributors who have not donated in a while
  • Volunteers/event attendees

Throughout your annual fund campaign, continually update this information to ensure accuracy and evaluate your data at pre-set times throughout the year. This will give you the opportunity to make any necessary adjustments as you go.

Building a Diverse, Cohesive Annual Fund Team

Due to the nature and scope of an annual fund campaign, you’ll want to assign experienced, dedicated team members to run the show.

As a best practice, it helps to thoroughly train everyone on how to use your chosen prospect research solutions, so the team is on the same page. iWave provides continual support, so every member of your team will always have someone to walk them through the software and to help them maximize its capabilities along the way.

Clearly assigning roles will help ensure every element of your organization’s annual fund campaign is accounted for, such as marketing, outreach, and events. As a best practice, always have a back-up plan. Pre-assign a replacement in the event that a member of your annual fund team cannot complete the campaign.

Meeting Donors Where They Are

When promoting your annual fund campaign, consider who you’re reaching out to. Some demographics may prefer to learn about and connect with your nonprofit in different ways, such as through:

  • Phone calls and/or texts
  • Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • Email communications (newsletters)
  • Print (newspapers/flyers)
  • Direct mail (brochures/letters)

The team members tasked with marketing and outreach should utilize donor data to determine the best way to engage individual donors.

Incentivizing Donors with Membership Reward Programs

A membership program is an opportunity for donors to enjoy unique benefits as a thank you for their continued support. In addition to material benefits, memberships bring people together more intimately. By offering a membership rewards program with a set fee, you’ll be able to better predict recurring donations.

Depending on your nonprofit’s resources, you might offer exclusive sneak peaks, member-exclusive activities, or other event-based perks like reserved seating. Handing out goody bags with items that sport your organization’s emblem is another option. Not only is this a desirable incentive, but it also gets the word out about your nonprofit even more!

Offer Plenty of Giving Options

Since recurring donors ultimately contribute more to your organization in the long run, it’s important to emphasize retaining this type of support throughout the course of your annual fund campaign.

One simple way to do this is by adding a recurring payment option to your annual fund campaign landing page. To provide donors with further flexibility, you can offer:

  • Customized giving amounts with details about what each monetary gift will do to support your nonprofit’s mission
  • A pledging program that allows people to commit to giving a specified amount by a future time (assign someone to keep track of, follow up with, and process all pledges)
  • A matching gift search link on your webpage, so donors can check to see if their employer matches gifts (this can quickly double your funds without any extra effort)

Events: Put It on the Calendar

Mapping out your annual calendar early will better ensure the success of your annual campaign and all your child campaigns. During the planning process, you’ll want to decide the number, as well as the types of events you want to host. To begin, decide on the:

  • Annual fund campaign launch and wrap-up dates
  • Fundraising events both big and small
  • Timelines for marketing and outreach strategies

Along with these, you may also want to include any pertinent administrative dates, as well as holidays. With these dates pinned down, you’ll have a clearer picture of what resources you’ll need to gather and when. Defining a schedule will also help you inform donors, so they can plan their attendance accordingly.

Amp Up the Intrigue

Many nonprofits host large annual events. Even if you host the same type of annual event, allocate time and energy to changing things up to excite donors year after year. For example, consider connecting people from across the country and globe by hosting a virtual event featuring special guest speakers.

Depending on the resources your organization has on hand, you may also consider breaking your annual campaign up into events scheduled throughout the year. This method can also be very effective and will keep your donors engaged on a more routine basis.

Corporate Support

When it comes to hosting events for your annual fund campaign, corporate sponsorships can make a huge difference. Not only can they provide money, but they can also draw more attention to your event, thus bringing in more donors.

The best place to start is by reaching out to your team members and long-time donors to see if there are any connections waiting to be nurtured.

Give Thanks, Foster Connection

If time and funds allow after you’ve completed your annual fund campaign, celebrate your nonprofit’s achievements at the beginning of the next year. Whether virtually or in person, a final event is a great way to help your donors feel like part of your nonprofit. It will keep them coming back, too.

Since building donor relationships is the bread and butter of any annual fund campaign strategy, take the time to thank all the people who stepped up to support your organization. At the same time, you can send along donation receipts to streamline the tax deductions process for your donors.

Lastly, be sure to personalize all follow-up engagement by letting your donor data inform how you reach out to every contributor.

Crafting Successful Annual Fund Strategies

At iWave, we help you fundraise with confidence. Part of that means providing you with the reliable data you need to develop successful annual fund strategies year after year. Discover the potential of iWave by scheduling an assessment or a free demo today!