The question “When should you fundraise?” can be answered by another question, “When do you need money?” The answer to that is this: you need money every day. You need money to pay administrative costs, utilities, program support and other operational expenses. Therefore, fundraising must be a whole-year activity.
The church passes the collection bag every week. That is 52 times a year not to mention special offerings whenever there is an additional need for funds. But what about the non-profit organization that does not have the same privilege as the church’s weekly collection?
An Annual Fund Campaign
Most non-profit organizations conduct an annual fund campaign to raise the annual operating budget in support of current program needs and yearly operating expenses. It also serves as a vehicle to acquire new donors as well as provide the opportunity for current donors to renew their gifts.
Without a carefully planned annual fund, an organization can find itself doing crisis fundraising and threatening the donors that it will close if the funds do not come. Some partners respond to this kind of appeal but if the organization does it more than once or twice, it speaks of the lack of planning and responsible administration on the part of the organization.
Planning the annual fundraise campaign begins the year before the start of the campaign year. Seasoned fundraisers create a year-round fundraising calendar detailing the events and activities of each month.
There are months where giving is low and this is usually during summer when people are usually on vacation. This lull period can be utilized by the fundraiser to monitor, evaluate, and plan the next fundraising events.
The annual fund is more than a series of unrelated fundraising events: direct mail, personal solicitation, online giving, telethons or special events, it is a carefully-thought-out plan to generate donor involvement in the organization. It serves to inform, engage, and bond the constituency to the mission of the non-profit organization.
Gifts in-kind or in cash can be solicited from prospective donors; first-time donors can be encouraged to give again; current donors can be challenged to upgrade their gifts. The annual fund serves to promote the habit of regularly giving to an organization.
So, when should you fundraise? Every day of the year!