Annual Fund

ESR's Annual Fund is an important element of ESR's finances, providing approximately 15% of its annual operating budget.  However, the Fund's performance has stagnated over the past ten years, and has even markedly decreased over the past five years, even in nominal terms.  When inflation and ESR's increased costs are factored in, the Fund is steadily losing ground in terms of the proportion of the budget it provides, though it still remains vital to ESR's fiscal health.

Over the past year-and-a-half, ESR has implemented several innovations to improve the performance of its Annual Fund.  Among these methods are: greater personalization in the solicitation process, asking for specific amounts, increasing the segmentation of direct mailing, and acquiring new prospective donors for ESR's database.  In terms of making personal approaches, ESR has begun by more personally soliciting its "institutional family": including faculty, staff, the ESR Board of Advisors and Earlham College Board of Trustees.  The results of these more personalized approaches have been impressive.  In the fiscal year-end 2005, one hundred percent of ESR faculty and staff donated more than $10,0000 to the School's Annual Campaign (compared to less than $5,000 in 2002).  This greater degree of personalization was also applied to direct mail solicitations beginning in November.  (Previously, direct mail recipients received solicitations simply addressed "Dear Friend".)

Beginning in November, 2004, direct mail solicitations have also been more finely segmented so as to allow the content of each letter to be more carefully crafted to appeal to the interests of the prospective donor.  Also beginning in November, 2003, specific ask amounts were included in each solicitation that challenged the donor to increase their giving relative to past years.  In terms of acquiring new prospective donors for the direct mail database, ESR has systematically approached most every Quaker organization in North America with a request to share their mailing lists.  The response to these requests has been somewhat disappointing, but not entirely fruitless.  Given this situation, ESR has asked the members of its Regional Development Committees to contribute names and contact information of prospective donors in their communities on more of an ad hoc basis.