As this year's annual fund season comes to a close, consider how to prepare for next year. From our experience, we find these things key to annual fund success:
- Create a core annual fund theme that naturally resonates with donors
- Create a graphic brand that presents the core theme
- Use the core theme and graphic throughout the annual fund season (versus doing a series of one-offs)
- Incorporate personalization in your print and e-mail appeals
To begin, mine your institution's history, both recent and past, for defining moments that donors recognize and connect with. For Bentley University, one of the nation’s leading business schools, Studio-e developed the core theme and graphic, "EveryOne Counts: The Bentley Fund," that played off a point of pride for the University—their modest beginnings as an accounting school.
Once the core annual fund theme and graphic is established, begin to plan and develop integrated print and e-mail appeals. Bentley's core theme allowed us to develop appeals throughout the year that stressed the importance of both dollars and donors.
In any fundraising initiative you should personalize as much as your data, your budget, and your staffing allows. There are multiple options available and we encourage you to look into them. Organizing your data will be the first step to prepare for personalization. For Bentley, we were able to use variable data print resources to create personalized appeals for alumni segmented by decade. Bentley's internal marketing team created e-mail appeals that coordinated with the print appeals.
Successful annual fund campaigns evolve from a solid core theme with a distinct graphic brand, presented through integrated and personalized print and email appeals throughout the annual fund year.
Once you have wrapped up FY13–14 and you're ready to prepare for next year's annual fund, give us a call. We know from experience that it's never to early to get started.