When we started teaching our “how to” anniversaries workshop many years ago, we quickly realized that most organizations could use support well in advance of their anniversary year. If there is one key in running a successful anniversary campaign it’s that you should start early.

Ok. We know that. But not just for the reason you may think, i.e. because events and campaigns are detailed and labor intensive and take time to plan and execute. It’s also because, for most organizations, there is serious work to be done before you and your board can tackle aspects like deciding on a goal, a campaign plan, and what your rebranded logo should look like.

Nowadays, most people understand that nonprofit anniversaries are full of potential. But many organizations just don’t have some vital assets in place – both internal and external – to truly make the most of the deep investment of time, money, and resources required of an anniversary campaign. 

If you just want to plan a party – here’s wishing you a wonderful night! 

But if you truly want to use this moment in time to create a transformative leap for your organization, you need to get some serious ducks in a row while there’s still time. 

When “you’re just not ready,” here are some of the things we’ve seen derail the very best laid plans for a stellar anniversary campaign: 

  • Lack of a clear vision and/or and clarity around what it will actually take to achieve it
  • A board that’s not onboard and ready to “step up” and lead the way
  • An unclear understanding of who needs to be engaged – early – to make it all work
  • Donors who aren’t ready to be asked to “do more” – no matter what the vision
  • Lingering questions from the past – holding people back from taking the leap 

If this sounds like a “pre-campaign campaign,” that may be true. We see it as a “runway” – building up speed so when you do take off, you stay aloft and soar.

In our September 19 digital classroom, Building a Successful Anniversary Campaign with a Readiness Checklist, we’ll review the anniversaries checklist and share the keys to anniversary success -- including some that may seem obvious but are often missed until it’s too late.

About the Author(s)

Cynthia Reddrick Senior Affiliate Cause Effective

Susan Gabriel Senior Associate Cause Effective

Subscribe to our blog

When we publish a new blog post, you’ll get notified by email.

Interested in being a guest writer for our blog? Learn how