Annual fund on your mind? Ditch it!

It’s time to stop raising money for your annual fund.

Yep, you read that right.

It’s time to stop thinking about one year at a time. Stop thinking about raising money to keep the lights on.  Ditch the annual fund.

The problem with an annual fund is that it’s all about you. The focus is on your light bill, your payroll, your needs.

That’s some pretty small thinking. And it will keep you raising small amounts of money.

Think about it. Every year, you raise the money you need to fund your mission. You probably slide in right at goal without much room to spare. Then you start all over the next fiscal year.

It’s boring to your donors.

It’s exhausting for you.

It can feel like being trapped inside a box with no way out.

So change it.

You don’t have to stay in the box unless you want to.

If you want to get fully funded and raise all the money your nonprofit needs to fulfill its mission, it’s time to think differently.

It’s time to stop thinking about what your nonprofit needs (your annual fund) and start thinking about what your donors are interested in. It’s time to move from ego-centric fundraising to donor-based fundraising.

Donor-based fundraising is about your donors and what they’re interested in.  It requires you to communicate with them instead of talking at them.

It requires you to think about and talk about your programs differently than you have before. You’ll need to tell stories about people whose lives have been changed. Talk about the impact of your nonprofit in the community.

Think of your nonprofit in terms of areas your donors can get excited about:

  • What are the specific quantifiable programs or projects you have going on that you can clearly describe?
  • Who is being served by the program/project?
  • How are lives changed?
  • Most importantly, what does it cost to run that program/project?

When you can talk to donors about the program or project they are most excited about, you’ll find fundraising gets easier and donors will give more. It makes sense that they’ll support the thing they’re most interested in, doesn’t it?

Nonprofits don’t have needs. The people you serve have needs.

So stop focusing on your need to pay the bills, and start focusing on the lives you’re changing. And raise money for that!

Need some inspiration? Check out this awesome video from The Restoration House, a non-profit in Knoxville, Tennessee. TRH helps to restore single mothers and their children back to God’s good intent for their lives.

The stereotypical view of single mothers often miss the mark. Have your perceptions shattered through this powerful look through the eyes of the single moms, children, mentors, and staff of The Restoration House.

About the Author:

Sandy shows Founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their big vision so they can spend their time changing lives instead of worrying about money. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to mastering donor-based fundraising, inspiring their donors to give often and give big.   Learn how to raise the money you need to fund your new nonprofit without begging, doing without, or paying out of your own pocket.   Click here to download our free ebook Fund Your Dream.


  1. kirkland April 2, 2013 at 11:58 am - Reply

    dog guide for autism awareness
    we do not have funds to purchase the above shown equipements that will in the long run eventually make it possible to succeed, we are a family with three kids all diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and we require by law that we fence our acre of property in a rural farming community, which we have had five estimates the lowest being 50K great
    now the fund raising begins and how?

    • Sandy Rees April 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      It might be best to see if there’s a nonprofit in your area that can help with that – maybe one that helps people with autism?


  2. Weekly Resource Guide, 4th ed. May 3, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

    […] Annual Fund On Your Mind? Ditch It! says Sandy Rees […]

  3. Tobi Rates December 31, 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply


    I’m not sure where this autism mom lives, but she can try contacting her local affiliate of the Autism Society. If there isn’t one in her state, or they aren’t helpful, please have her contact me at the Autism Society of Oregon. I have some ideas for her including contacting her county Developmental Disabilities agency. and donor organizations listed on the “Request Support” page of our website. Also, might she get away with fencing less than the full acre to reduce the cost? I have 2 sons on the autism spectrum and would be happy to chat with her about ways we can help.

    Tobi Rates
    Autism Society of Oregon

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