Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation: 2007 annual report
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This small foundation’s annual report is not only an effective piece of communication and a complete record of the organisation’s year and all its activities, it also was produced on a tiny budget and has gone on to raise more than double its costs. So, it’s an example for any small budget, solo fundraiser. It shows that effective communication isn’t necessarily a cost, it should be a sound investment.
Type of charity:Environmental/animals.
Target audience:Individuals, corporations, granting organisations.
Country of origin:Canada.
Kimberley MacKenzie CFRE
Name of exhibitor:Kimberley MacKenzie
Date of first appearance:May, 2008.
2007 marked a significant milestone for the organization. The purpose of this publication was to share that success with our donors and prospects.
Specifically the objectives were:
Our small, regional, environmental NGO has been experiencing dramatic growth since it was restructured in 2004. At that time fundraising revenue was just over $144K per annum. As reported, in 2007 revenue had risen to over $698,000. We have also more than tripled the amount of funding provided to restoration programmes and 2007 was the first year we did not have to draw on reserves for administrative expenses. In fact, we put a surplus into reserves and may soon be able to hire another staff person!
People are noticing the ‘Honour’ page. In memoriam donations (‘in memory of’ and ‘in honour of’) have become a weekly part of our annual fund activities. These mostly come from new donors who have heard of us through friends.
For next year ,we will make our report more donor centred. It is easy to see in hindsight that while we were anxious to communicate results, the writing is fairly internally focused. For example, the success doesn’t belong to the organisation, it belongs to the donors who support the organisation. This is a fundamental shift in thinking we are starting to practice in everything we do
It is difficult to measure total impact. Financially, we didn’t ask for money but we did include a BRE and a cover letter in the mailing. This proved very worthwhile. For the first time, unsolicited donations are coming in with notes and letters attached thanking us for our great work and even a few apologies from people that they aren’t able to give more. Of course these handwritten notes are quickly replied to, also with a handwritten note.
$2,700, including design, printing and postage
The hope was that by including a BRE we would be able to get the publication to pay for itself. Revenue has more than doubled the cost with $6,000 in donations since it was mailed less than three months ago.
In small organisations there often isn’t the luxury of time or money. The chief fundraising officer frequently acts as the ‘expert’ in marketing, direct mail, major giving, governance, on line initiatives, planned giving and even special events. The survival strategy is simply to do the best we can to advance the mission, with the time and resources available.
This annual report demonstrates that, while it was produced in a small shop, the publication doesn’t need to reflect that and the donors don’t need to know it. Many constituents are surprised when they learn about our $50,000 operating budget (exclusive of salaries). They feel like they are part of something much bigger.
This document is also an example of how we can be proud of a ‘work in progress’, celebrating and learning from our work at the same time.
It is important for ‘Jack of all trades’ fundraisers to study and learn from organisations that have the resources, expert staff and the luxury of test results. We hope that by sharing information about this publication, other small fundraising shops will be willing to jump in and proudly share their work. SOFII is a great place for that!