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There’s a lot to do this summer to successfully fundraise year-round
There’s nothing better than taking a step back and a slow breath during the summer months. But, there’s also nothing worse than having year-end giving preparations creep up on you. Don’t let the seasonality of fundraising steal your summer fun! Focus on a short list of summer fundraising to-do’s that will matter when it comes to growing the audience and support of your nonprofit year-round.
Is summer a good time to fundraise?
While most giving occurs between October and December, the summer is one of the best times to do the non-transactional aspects of fundraising. Reconnecting with donors, celebrating achievements, recruiting volunteers, and maybe most importantly, learning and testing new ways to raise support. Below is our list of fundraising to-do’s to tackle during the summer months.
#1 Learn new ways to raise support…at your leisure
You can find just about anything on-demand these days, including ways to learn or stay up to date on fundraising best practices. Here are some of the Nonprofit Hub team’s favorite laid-back learning methods:
- Listen to a podcast while taking a road trip or lounging around.
- Read that book that keeps coming to mind. Check out our list of favorite nonprofit books.
- Take an on-demand course on a topic you’d like to learn more about.
- Dig into things you’ve been wanting to research or try. Here are a few of our top downloaded guides if you’re wondering what other peers are pursuing this summer:
#2 Evaluate vendor relationships
This is not super fun-to-do, and although it’s a bit ancillary to direct fundraising, it’s oh so necessary. The summertime is a great time to evaluate your fundraising and marketing tools/solutions and the vendors who provide them. These relationships not only impact your bottom line but your donor and sponsor relationships. Attention must be paid to them. Use this guide to help you identify red flags or areas to pay closer attention to.
#3 Talk to your teammates about fundraising.
Pretty soon you’ll be in the grind of year-end giving and all the pre-determined processes and work that come with it. Use the flexibility of summer to network with those closest to you. Building solid relationships with your coworkers will not only make work more enjoyable, but it will also help them help you when it comes to raising support. Whether it’s brainstorming new approaches, vetting fundraising language, testing new techniques, or simply asking who they might know, your team is one of your greatest assets as a fundraiser. Make it a point to make it fun by connecting outside the office. Go for a round of golf, a cup of coffee or take a stroll over lunch.
#4 Prioritize connection with donors
A one-dimensional relationship with your donors is a fast-track ticket to losing them. Donors become endeared to causes (and fundraisers) when they have grounds for connection outside the transaction of giving. Without any pretense or financial purpose, reach out to donors during the summer simply to connect. If this feels awkward, consider trying one of these approaches:
- As an organization, invest in season tickets to your community’s playhouse, sports team, or some other social soiree. Invite donors to be your guest as you use the tickets.
- Hold a picnic or community gathering. Invite donors as well as partners and other stakeholders. Make it a potluck to save money!
- Partner with an area business. Ask a greenhouse or restaurant to do a buy one, give one sale for your charity, or donate back a percentage of sales on a specific day. Although this is a teeny bit of an ask, it’s a golden opportunity for your donors to support your cause while also connecting with you.
- Simply ask them to meet. Here is a starter script for a simple email invitation:
Hi Donor Doe,
I hope your summer is off to a great start! Could we find a time to connect over coffee or lunch in the next few weeks? I would love to get to know you more and learn how you became involved with XYZ Org.
Looking forward to it!
#4 Get to Know Your Organization (by the numbers)
Hopefully, you’re Form 990 is filed by the time July rolls around, and perhaps you’ve even completed your annual report. Dig into those documents and become familiar with your organization’s financial health and history. Knowing the financial landscape can help you quantify impact when writing grants or talking to donors and inform the preparation of your next annual budget.
Knowing the data is a must if you’re looking to climb the ladder in your organization. While it may not be the most entertaining summer reading, it will help you and your organization to grow.
#5 Start your year-end planning.
Yup…YE planning should start now. Deep sigh. The good news is that by starting early, you’ll make the actual year-end giving season easier on yourself and your team. Rod Arnold of Leading Good recently shared his method for growing nonprofits by as much as 20% during the year-end season through early planning. Check it out>>