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How Do You Establish Your Annual Fund Goals?
By Thomas Schroeder
What steps do you take in establishing yearly goals for your institution’s
annual fund, is your goal-setting structured, who is involved, and how
far in advance of the new year are goals determined?
“Public trust is vital to the mission of every charitable institution,
and transparency and accountability are critical factors for donors,
prospective donors, other stakeholders and patrons,” says Thomas
Young, vice president of institutional advancement for Gustavus
Adolphus College (Saint Peter, MN). “Research has consistently shown
a direct correlation between public confidence in an organization and
its level of support.”
Young suggests that several questions must be addressed in the
❑ Were the previous year’s fundraising goals accomplished?
❑ What are the organization’s financial needs, and how will these
fluctuate based on changes in projected operating expenses and
❑ Exactly how many donors give annually, and how much do they
❑ What is the donor attrition rate — how many people who give one
year don’t give the following year?
❑ How will the organization identify prospective donors, and what is
the organization’s track record in turning prospective donors into
“In order for goals to be achievable and viable, the right people
should be involved in the planning process,” says Young. “Key
executives and development staff members should guide the process,
and board members, current donors and other volunteers can be
structured in diverse teams to gain broad perspective.”
Young suggests segmenting the annual fund goals into smaller
achievable campaigns that connect to the values and interests of donors
by doing the following:
1. Establishing firm deadlines and assigning clear responsibilities. Make
certain that goals are quantifiable, with timelines assigned for action
steps and objectives. By the end of the third quarter in the fiscal
year, goals should be clearly established for the following year.
2. Developing board approved policies and procedures that define
donor cultivation, protocol for prospect contact and solicitation,
and the percentage of individual donors with breakdowns of
smaller, mid-level and major gifts involved.
3. Communicating the organization’s story in a way that connects to
donors, educates about the mission of the organization and
displays how achieving the fundraising goals will create true value
4. Structuring the campaign with a beginning point, mid-range goals
and an end. Semantics are important and the term “campaign”
coalesces the energy of volunteers, staff and board members, and
also builds a sense of urgency for donors while highlighting the
importance and impact of their gifts.
Source: Thomas Young, Vice President of Institutional Advancement,
Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, MN. Phone (507) 933-7551.
E-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.gustavus.edu
Seven Ways to Expand
Your Prospect Database
Want to find new prospects to add to your
mailing list? Try these ideas:
1. Research. Understand and use your mission
to find clubs, associations and people who
share the same interests as your
2. Follow the media. Watch local news
programs and subscribe to local publications
to get the latest on new companies, business
people, affluent members of the community,
etc. Find out who they are, where they’re
from and what their interests are.
3. Go public. Go to local churches, clubs and
giving circles and speak about your work.
Send press releases or call newspaper editors
when you have a newsworthy occasion so
that they might write about it.
4. Create Web presence. Build your Web page
titles based on phrases for which you want to
be found in search engines (e.g., Google).
Include a newsletter or information sign-up
option on your website or have people
“register” to enter your site by entering their
name and e-mail address.
5. Recognize. Talk to long-time supporters
about the need to bring new donors to the
organization. Offer recognition in
publications and at special events for donors
who bring in new donors. Add categories
such as Agency Heroes or Agency Superstars
to your existing donor categories for those
who bring in new supporters.
6. Keep your ears open. Any time you hear
someone in the community expressing
interest in your organization, introduce
yourself and ask for their business card, and
if you can, put them on your mailing list.
7. Utilize special events. Have information
request cards and sign-in forms at your
events, so those interested can fill in their
information. Offer some premium if they
turn in a card or sign up (e.g., pens or
refrigerator magnets with your
Case Statement Prep
Focus your case statement’s message on your
organization’s future rather than on