Checking the Progress/Success of Your Annual Fun at the End of 2022

As the end of 2022 nears its end, now is a great time to check in on your Annual Fund and see how things are going. We have often said that a Catholic school/parish Annual Fund is the single most important Development $$$ effort that you can implement. Simply because it is not “buy and sell” like fund-raisers; it is inviting people to invest in the future of your Catholic institution with their Gift of Prayer, Gift of Service, and Gift of Financial Participation.

To clarify, the Annual Fund can work in any Catholic institution. You can create, organize and implement this process in any of the following configurations:

  • Catholic high school
  • Catholic elementary school
  • K-12 Catholic school
  • Catholic school system (multiple campuses)
  • Catholic school and home parish
  • Catholic parish with no school

We offer that clarification because in our work we see that a number of people seem to believe that the Annual Fund only works well on the secondary school level. All of the above configurations can implement this Development $$$ process with success.

As we look at checking in on the Annual Fund, listed here are ten questions that we believe should be considered.

  1. Have you set up your Annual Fund to invite the three Gifts: Prayer, Service, and Financial Participation?
    • The Annual Fund is an excellent way to invite these three gifts. As Catholic institutions, the Gifts of Prayer and Service are essential for us to build our “people base” for the future. Everyone has the potential to participate. The Annual Fund does not just have to be, “Show me the money.” It should also be about, “Please share your gifts.”
  2. Is the case for your Annual Fund strong and meaningful? In other words, is it clear where you plan to use the Gifts that people will share with you?
    • People want to see tangible results. They want to see how they can specifically help – whether it is saying the Annual Fund Prayer every day or helping coach the 6th grade basketball team, or financially giving money to build the covered walkway that will connect the school to the church.
  3. Is your Annual Fund “packet” working?
    • In the ISPD Summer Development School, we recommend that every Catholic institution eventually put together an Annual Fund “packet” that has the following components:
      • Targeted letter (personalized)
      • Annual Fund brochure
      • Intention Card inviting the three gifts
      • Return envelope
      • Mailing envelope
      • Annual Fund Prayer Card
  4. Is your Annual Fund a 1-2-3 person show, or have you involved people in leadership positions to make up the organization chart of a successful Annual Fund?
    • In order for the Annual Fund to be successful, we believe that there needs to be an organizational structure of people who will work closely with the president, principal, pastor, development officer, etc. to make the entire process work.
    • At the very basic configuration, ISPD believes the following positions/divisions work well:
      • Annual Fund Chair Couple (2022-23)
    • Annual Fund Associate Chair Couple (2022-23)
    • Major Gift Division Chairs (2 couples)
    • Inviting gifts of $1,000+ (Whether that is 2 people or 200, this division needs to get “legs” underneath it).
    • Leadership Gift Division Chairs (2 persons)
      • Board and faculty/staff
      • One chair a board member — the other chair a faculty member
    • Parent Gift Division Chairs (2 couples)
    • Alumni(ae) Gift Division Chairs (5 alums)
      • From different decades and/or eras
  5. Is your Annual Fund a direct mail or e-mail appeal only?
    • The biggest difference we have seen between a successful Annual Fund and one that limps along has to do with direct mail and/or e-mail. We believe that direct mail and/or e-mail should do three things:
      • Announce
      • Position
      • Reinforce
    • Most of the time, these methods do not motivate people to sit down and fill in the Intention Card. If you are only using direct mail to invite gifts, then at the very least, figure out a way to remind people five times during the course of the fiscal year July 1st – June 30th.
  6. How many one-on-one visits and invitations have you made thus far?
    • Here is where the success lies. When your Catholic institution has established a Culture of Giving and Receiving, where people have been and still are being invited to become involved in more ways than giving their money, then the one-on-one visit is where things really will happen. Relationships begin to build; different ideas are put out on the table; people become more receptive to future involvement; the culture begins to shift from a fund-raising effort inside the school/parish to a development/advancement effort for the entire faith community to support.
  7. Are you going to follow-up to any direct mail and/or e-mail that is, has been and will be sent?
    • We find that the results of just direct mail and/or e-mail are minimal. At the very least, have your Annual leaders make ten phone calls each – to parents, to alums, to financial leaders. People give to people.
    • On-line giving is a must so please encourage as many people as possible to go to your website and read more about the value of your Annual Fund and state their intention.
  8. Are you reporting the progress of your Annual Fund on a consistent basis?
    • What communication vehicles have you set up to let your board, faculty/staff, parents, alums, parishioners, financial leaders, etc. know how the Annual Fund is doing? With the technology options we have today, there are all kinds of ways for you to report the progress of the Annual Fund – monthly.
  9. Are you meeting at least twice per month with the Annual Fund leaders to make sure things are on track?
    • The Annual Fund should not just kick off in the fall or the first of the year or in the spring with a direct mail and a few phone calls and then that is the end of it. Although different divisions may kick-off at different times of the year, this Development $$$ process is a 12-month effort that begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th. Regular meetings with your Annual Fund leaders (whomever they may be) will encourage you to monitor the progress, troubleshoot, make corrections and adjustments, and keep everyone motivated.
  10. Are you planning to take care of opportunities for Year End giving?
    • With the end of 2022 approaching, now is a great time to send out the Year End letter and tie it into the Annual Fund. Please see the sample below.




As we move from the Thanksgiving Holidays into the Season of Advent, all of us here at (name of institution) have so much for which to be thankful. We have been blessed with such wonderful families who have supported us through the years; our programs (organizations/activities/ministries) are wide and varied and serve many people; (Name 2-3 other assets or impressive areas of the parish/school plus add the next one, if applicable); our planning processes continue to invite and involve many people to shape the future for (name of institution); and, the list goes on and on.

Despite all of our blessings, we still have much to do. As the Archbishop Oscar Romero prayer says, “We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development.” Our journey continues.

As the end of 2022 approaches, there are some of our families who always want to know what they can financially do for (name of institution) so that we can continue to “lay foundations.” I do invite you to consider a year end gift to your school/parish. This type of gift may have tax advantages for you; it may be that you need to make your charitable contributions for 2022, or you just may want to financially give back more than you have in the past – as your gift to (name of institution). Whatever the reason, we would like to offer this opportunity by providing a return envelope and extending this invitation to you. We plan to use year-end gifts to (state 2-3 positive, agreeable items where you would plan on using some of the money).

Thank you for considering (name of institution) in your year-end thoughts and plans.


Yours in Christ,




P.S.      (Name of person/people), we wish  you a Happy Advent, a joyous Christmas, and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for considering our invitation.

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