Are you afraid your capital campaign will gobble up your annual fund? You’re probably worrying that when people give gifts to your campaign, they won’t want to make their regular gifts to your annual fund.

As you head into year-end fundraising season, your fears may increase exponentially. But in reality, your annual fund should never decrease during a capital campaign — as long as you’re thoughtful about how you approach your donors.

Start with Your Biggest, Most Loyal Donors

For the bulk of your campaign (the quiet phase), you’ll only solicit donors in person — not through the mail or email. And you’ll explain that you’re seeking their support for the campaign, over and above, their regular annual contribution.

You will help your donors understand that even as you expand through a capital campaign, funding for current programs and services continues to be the life blood of your programs.

The public solicitation phase of your campaign is very short

The public phase of your campaign, when you reach out to your broad base of supporters and the community at large, should be very short. Often as short as two or three months.

During the public phase, you’ll ask your lower level donors for campaign gifts by direct mail and email. In those campaign solicitations, you will clearly state that campaign gifts should be on top of the donors’ annual gifts that support your ongoing programs and services.

3 Ways to Protect Your Annual Fund from Your Capital Campaign

Follow these three basic guidelines to ensure that the money you raise for annual operations doesn’t suffer while you are in the midst of your capital campaign.

1. Prioritize annual giving.

Let your donors know that their gifts to the campaign should be in addition to their regular support. If a donor says that he or she wishes to make a combined gift, make sure that their regular gift amount is put toward your annual fund and only the remaining funds count toward the campaign.

2. Do NOT interrupt your regular annual appeals.

Your campaign appeals should be sent in addition to the annual appeals. You will have better results if you schedule your annual and campaign appeals at different times. Time the public phase of your campaign so your broad base campaign solicitations don’t coincide with your year-end fundraising appeals.

3. Communicate clearly when you ask.

Make sure your donors know that they will be asked for both their regular, annual gift as well as a gift to the campaign. Include the capital campaign ask in the annual appeal and mention annual giving in the campaign ask. That way you cover all your bases and you won’t surprise your donors when you ask for a special campaign gift.

Above All, Be Clear with Your Donors

As you head into year-end giving, make sure you explain clearly to your donors what you are raising funds for. Be clear about the impact of your donors’ gifts. If you have a strong case for support, both for your annual and capital needs, your donors will respond well. Believe me! None of your donors want you to have a successful campaign at the expense of your programs.


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