Launching an Annual Campaign

Dear Kim:

I was recently hired by a community health center as the Fundraising Manager to implement the first-ever Annual Campaign. Our organization is over 30 years old and thriving, but it has been funded primarily by patient fees and grants until now. We are working on developing our business identity, including re-designing our logo/tagline and creating publicity materials to use for the campaign. Do you have suggestions of key elements to include as part of an information packet for cultivating donors? My plan is to get samples from other community agencies in healthcare, as well as organizations that are guided by the same values in their work even if different in scope, including policy/advocacy organizations, universities, and environmental groups. We are working on developing content, working off of the Case for Support, but I don’t know the best practice for deciding what to include and how to present it.

–Trying to get all our ducks in a row

Dear Ducks:

You are doing all the right things to help you design your materials. Basically, as all fundraisers know, there are very few new ideas and our best material is borrowed from others who borrowed it from someone else. Asking other health centers for what they use, as well as looking at other kinds of organizations is a good idea.

However, a few words of caution: you are new, and the first thing you need to find out is what is the identity of the health center now? You say it is 30 years old and thriving, so clearly people know it and both use and recommend the services you provide. Don’t fix something that is not broken. What makes you think you need a new logo and tag line? What makes you think you need a business identity? What is problematic about the identity you have now? Take some time to talk to community leaders about the health center so you don’t wind up making unnecessary and possibly unpopular changes.

Also, the two most important things in an annual campaign do not include materials. They are: prospects and solicitors. Who is going to do the asking and who are they going to ask? I would build that list first and then work with the solicitors to figure out what these prospects will want to know. If they are long time community people, they may wonder why, after 30 years, you need to raise funds, or they may have specific services they would like you to add to your health center, or they may wonder who else is giving. Work on getting your team ready to solicit, with training, frequently asked questions, goals and a gift range chart.

And don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than you think it should to get this annual campaign up and running.

–Kim Klein