Looking Beyond the “Annual Fund”

We believe that significant attention must be paid to the sowing of greater philanthropic goodwill, not just the reaping of that which already exists.


annual fundA Phase One case for support adds programmatic flesh to the themes of the institution with the overarching theme being what unique ability defines the institution, giving it excellence and relevance in the 21st Century; acting increasingly and strategically in the service of its students, community, alumni and friends.  (i.e. For those with authentic Judeo-Christian heritage or ritual, acting increasingly and strategically in the service of Christ and His Kingdom).

  1. Revamp the Annual Fund Vision:  Continue the revitalization of the annual fund by placing less emphasis on the fact that it is “annual” and a “fund”, and more emphasis on it becoming more of a means for ongoing and increasingly active participation in the richness of lives and learning at the University.
  2. Develop Engagement Plan:  Determine which areas enjoy the highest concentrations of alumni, friends and parents and develop the necessary deployment schedule to best engage each segment.
  3. Reinforce Retention:  Look at attrition rates and take up defined initiative to shore up this the holes in your strategy.  A particular emphasis should be placed on the treatment of revocable estate givers.  Focus the greatest efforts on turning out key constituents.
  4. Determine which constituents deserve 1:1 attention, and by whom?  What should be the interval for connecting and schedule of ‘touches’?
  5. Virtual Substantive Engagement:  Develop a virtual engagement for alumni and parents who do not live in the area to provide ongoing access and substance to your institution and mission.

clean calendarA Phase Two case for support should start with a review of the College’s entire slate of annual events (completed by the end of the academic year), by developing criteria for event evaluations.  Zero-base the calendar and determine what messages and meetings are most effective for bringing constituents closer to the College (university or organization):

  1. Training: Develop a training curriculum to ensure that the advancement staff is trained to the unfolding needs and opportunities of the coming season of giving.  This includes understanding the rationale of the case around the Phase One priorities and analytics. 
  2. Reaching Young Alumni: Because young alumni engagement is vital to the eventual building of a large philanthropic pool, we recommend a deeper study of young alumni attitudes and the development of a Plan.
  3. Data & Research: Start with a desk audit of the researcher’s time and understanding to determine where the largest opportunities for support lie.
  4. Proposal writing:  Explore the need for a proposal/foundation writer (or subcontractor), perhaps engaging volunteer assistance.
  5. Stewardship: Data suggests that donors are less and less satisfied with College governance, and younger donors especially have greater interest in understanding specific purposes and outcomes for their gifts.  In a day where many institutions have a hand up, it is getting more and more difficult to get a donor back once lost.
  6. Communication of Critical Information:  Develop the means for development officers to share and access critical pieces of information, including letters and templates with common positioning facts.  This is the group that most needs on-going training; further, this is the group that is least understood by the president, the board, and even advancement.  Consider 3 days of annual training for the entire development staff (with one day to include the president and board chair).
  7. Metrics:  Determine if current metrics are creating the desired cause & effect, if they can be tailored to better assist the development staff in meeting the mission of the University as well as the needs of the donor.
  8. Planned Giving: Implement a fixed time schedule to ensure irrevocable and revocable donors receive regular visits to solidify their existing commitments and their requests.
  9. Volunteers: The area in which volunteers might have the most immediate impact on the College’s effort is developing specialty relationships by geography or affiliation.  Look for ways to understand how this can best serve the institution. (Fact: A volunteer will give 10X more over their lifetime, to an institution than someone who did not volunteer)