Featured Expert   
Susan Love
August 2000

How do you best conduct your annual fundraising campaign during the same year you plan to run a capital campaign?

"I know people get very nervous about this situation, and say: 'We're already asking for money, so we can't ask the same people for the same thing twice'. First of all, you're not asking for the same thing. Make sure that however you present one campaign, that it's extremely different from the other. One is a capital campaign, and you talk about it in a certain way. The other is an annual giving campaign, and it is talked about in a different way and is targeted towards something else.

It's also a question of timing. You don't want to be asking for your capital campaign donations at the end of the fall, which is when you are probably asking for your annual giving donations. You don't want to do these two mailings at the same time. You have to plan. Everything in fundraising, has to do with planning.

There is a more sophisticated way of running an annual giving than just sending out a group of letters and that is to run it like a small capital campaign. You divide up your consistency based on their potential levels of giving. You approach each constituency differently. To people who have never given to your library - you send them one type of mailing. To people who have already given - you say thank for the amount of money that they gave previously and ask them to donate the same amount or a % more. This means record keeping. Record keeping is very important in fundraising, no matter how sophisticated or unsophisticated you database.

During my last campaign we got great responses with this method. People called up and said 'Thank you for reminding me of what I gave last year, I can never remember what I gave, and I want to give you the same amount.' Other people said, 'Thanks very much for telling me, I'm giving to the capital campaign this year, so I'm going to give a little less.' or 'Well, I'm going to give you 5% more than I did last year, because the cost of living has gone up'. You will be able to do that sort of thing because you have kept good records. (It's a good idea to put the previously donated amount in the PS of the letter, because the PS is the part everyone reads. 'PS, thanks very much for your gift last year of 'X amount,' we are...')

Carefully target your different constituencies in an annual giving campaign. Don't do your mailings at the same time as the capital campaign. Make sure people understand that you are talking about two different campaigns. (A good way to do this is to have distinctively different literature associated with each campaign.)

The classic mistake is when somebody says 'We really don't think we should do annual giving at all this year- let's drop it.' Everyplace where this has been done, has later had difficulty picking up the annual giving the following year. Organizations that didn't drop their annual appeal found that it often went up because more people were aware of the cause."


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