Beating the Summertime Fundraising Blues

AFPsummerGiving Thoughts: Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…. Unless you’re trying to raise money, that is.

Honestly, I love summer—the rest and relaxation, chillin’ on the beach, cookouts with friends and relatives. But for fundraisers, it can be a tough time to do our jobs.

So the question is, What do you do during the summer when your donors are busy not paying attention to you and your organization?

 The answer is: plenty.

First, let’s make it clear that summer isn’t a time to do nothing. To the contrary, you want to use this time to continue your cultivation and stewardship activities, setting the stage for when you might resume asking people for money. I’m not implying that you don’t ask people for money during the summer months, but rather that people’s vacation schedules, travel and general mindset might prevent you from conducting what you’d consider your “school year” fundraising regimen.

Think back to a few years ago to when the recession hit. Philanthropic giving slowed considerably, fundraisers cut back on their solicitations, and campaigns either modified the strategy, stalled or never got off the ground. Still, development efforts continued in anticipation of the time when giving would return to normal.

And so it is with summer. Use this time as an opportunity to regroup and reassess. Revisit your annual fund case, your marketing materials and your website. For those who count by the calendar year, you’re halfway home. How are you doing in relation to your goals? For those whose fiscal years start in July, you’re just getting started. Be sure your proverbial ducks are in a row so you can hit the ground running come fall.

Summer is also a great time for professional development. If you’re in a small office, think about cross training for your staff. How about a refresher course on making the ask? Try role playing with your colleagues. Read the latest books on grant writing or volunteer management or planned giving strategies, depending on your expertise.

Also, take some time to clean up your database and to peruse your mailing lists. Small housekeeping tasks like this may seem like busywork, but your efforts will pay dividends in the long run.

Above all, continue meeting with donors and prospects as much as possible, though keep in mind they may be less enthusiastic about seeing you. It’s nothing personal. Then again, you might find some folks who think summer is just a fantastic time to discuss their philanthropic commitments. Either way, keep moving forward, but temper expectations and don’t get frustrated.

Fall will be here before you know it, and things will return to normal. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer and have some fun.

Thanks to SkyStone Partners eknuppel@skystonepartners.com for the article above.

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