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Nine Phases of a Successful Annual Campaign
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Nine Phases of a Successful Annual Campaign

By Misty Cato Vice President, Diversified Nonprofit Services

PHASE I: Create Steering Committee
The Annual Campaign Steering Committee is a group of 6-8 board members that will plan and lead the campaign until the full committee is in place.

PHASE II: Plan Campaign
It is important that before an organization begins soliciting volunteers, donors or gifts, they have a solid campaign plan in place. This plan includes: a time line, a budget, financial and gift accounting procedures, an organizational chart and a range of gifts table based on a realistic goal.

PHASE III: Recruit Campaign Committee based on Organizational Chart
Once the organization has a plan, they can begin identifying campaign leadership. Leadership is the key ingredient in the success of any Annual Campaign. One of the more effective practices is the recruitment of campaign leadership from outside the organization’s governing board. By including volunteers from outside the board, the organization can broaden its reach in the community and create the perception that the Annual Campaign is a community based fundraising effort to benefit the organization as opposed to just another fundraiser by the organization.

PHASE IV: Develop Marketing Strategy
The Annual Campaign focus should be on the message and not on the money. The campaign marketing materials should be focused on communicating the impact of the organization in addressing the needs of the community. An effective Annual Campaign marketing strategy will include: case statement, campaign theme, collateral material, media (appropriate to budget) and two campaign events (an internal and external kickoff). The comprehensive marketing strategy designed to illustrate the benefit of making a gift to the organization.

PHASE V: Conduct Internal Campaign
The Board campaign (Internal Gifts) is the foundation of the entire Annual Campaign. The ultimate goal of the Internal Gifts Campaign is simple – 100% participation. Your organization cannot go to the community for support without first achieving 100% giving from the Board of Directors.

PHASE VI: Conduct External Prospect ID & Rating
The objective is to create a comprehensive prospect list prior to beginning external solicitations. Creating this list prior to beginning the solicitations will allow the organization to conduct external solicitations in sequential order. That is, those prospects with the highest giving capacity should be solicited first. By focusing on the largest gifts first, momentum can be created for the remainder of the campaign.

PHASE VII: Conduct External Campaign
To this point the Annual Campaign process has involved months of planning and positioning. The Annual Campaign Committee (including non board members) has been recruited and engaged, the campaign marketing strategy has been developed and is being effectively executed, the Internal Gifts Campaign has been completed with 100% participation, and the external prospect list has been developed in support of the campaign goal. You are now ready to present your case for support to the community at large and secure the necessary funds to deliver on your mission.

PHASE VIII: Analyze/Evaluate Campaign
Evaluation is a key component of any process. It is important to take time at the conclusion of the Annual Campaign to analyze and evaluate the results of the campaign and identify specific strengths and weaknesses. This information will be vital in planning for the following year’s campaign.

PHASE IX: Conduct Ongoing Cultivation & Stewardship
While the Annual Campaign seemingly ends at this point, it is actually an ongoing cycle. Organizations must take an ongoing approach to fundraising through active cultivation and stewardship. You should not view a successful solicitation as an end point, but rather as the beginning of a new relationship. Successful fundraising hinges on building relationships with donors, allowing them to develop an emotional bond with your organization. Cultivation is defined as “fostering the growth” of something. In this case, that “something” is support for your organization. Every organization needs to have a formal plan for cultivating new and existing donors. The idea is to create as many “touches” as possible between donors and your organization. Likewise, stewardship is defined as the “careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”. In the case of Annual Campaigns, the donor has entrusted your organization with their financial investment. It is your responsibility to use those gifts in the manner for which they were intended and to report the results of these investments to donors.

Cultivation and stewardship strategies are an effective way to engage your Board of Directors in the fundraising success of your organization. While many board members are uncomfortable asking for money, most are willing to meet with prospects and donors to share information about your organization.

If you would like to request an individual meeting to discuss Annual Campaigns, please contact me at 910-540-2593 or