The Appeal vs. The Annual fund

Team working togetherDo you consider your annual appeal your annual fund?

Before we get into the substance of the article, you should note that while the example given is for a synagogue, the same case could be made for the fundraising plans at any kind of membership-based organization that have ad-hoc appeals throughout the year. The shift towards an annual fund program is a shift towards long-term sustainability.

Now, back to our example.

In many synagogues, the major fundraising push takes place during the high holidays. These appeals may involve letters, cards, as well as the obligatory appeal speech during the services. They vary in interest (and response) depending on the speaker, but they all invariably ask for everyone to do their part in helping support the coming year of activities.

Why continue to make this appeal? In many ways, these one-day pitches are low cost – low return events. The height of attendance combined with the holiday spirit – what could be better, you might think? But, if that is the only time and way in which a congregation asks its members for money, there is more than likely a lot of money being left on the table just waiting to be “developed.”

Is there a difference?
An annual appeal can be a part of the annual fund. It can be the start or end of the fundraising cycle. It can even be the public way in which you invite your constituents to share in the joys of giving.

This type of general appeal blankets the community and gives everyone a chance to give, but it does not give anyone the reason to give a substantial amount. It provides them with an opportunity to pick a somewhat random value to offer to the organization. Very few people use a pledge card taped to the seat in front of them to make commitments of consequence (particularly, when considering their own financial capacity).

Making the change
Where should you start? Form a development committee, segment the lists, rate the potential donors and cultivate relationships. Have someone talk to each of the highest rated individuals. Provide opportunities for donors to be heard. Offer them the chance to make a gift that will give them a sense of accomplishment and that can make a difference to their community.

This will not happen in a month. But now is the perfect time to start planning for next year. Fundraising is a long-term process, not a quick fix.

Sounds like a lot of work? Call us and we’ll walk you through the process. We guarantee an annual fund that will increase your funding for many years to come.