If your organization is like many organizations, the summer is sort of a “lull” time for fundraising. It is often difficult to schedule meetings with donors and potential donors, staff may be vacationing and summer fundraising events tend to be smaller than those at other times of the year, or non-existent. It might even feel like there “is nothing to do.” However, the summer months can be used to your advantage…to prepare for the busiest season of the fundraising calendar—fall.
Use this time to identify who you want to build relationships with this fall—ultimately, who do you want to know about the work you are doing? Spend time learning about them this summer, what are their interests, what are their passions? Who do you know that knows them? Learn about their giving potential. Then, develop a strategy to connect them with the organization.
Connect with your Supporters
Summer is a great time to send out a newsletter –either print or electronic. Perhaps your organization does not yet have a newsletter and is slightly overwhelmed at the thought of starting one. A newsletter doesn’t have to be complex, but staying in touch with those who support your work (volunteers, client families, donors, businesses, etc.) is essential. A newsletter often begins with success stories—how has your organization made a difference in the life of someone you have served? Collect these stories and include them in your newsletter.
Develop or Clean Up Your Mailing List
As you prepare to develop a newsletter, you may realize that you don’t have a mailing list or your mailing list is not up-to-date. Now is the time to get the mailing list cleaned up and ready for use. While some organizations find that a print newsletter works best, more and more organizations are sending out electronic newsletters. To do so, it is important that the mailing list contain email addresses that do not bounce. Spend some time this summer collecting emails and cleaning up the list that you presently have.
But, you should know that more and more organizations are going back to print newsletters a few times a year. Most people are experiencing email fatigue and do not open many of their emails. Having a newsletter in their mail invites people to sit down with a cold drink to read about what is happening in your organization.
Talk with Program Staff
There are great things happening in your organization each and every day that you know nothing about. The program staff and those providing direct service will tell you this is true. Unfortunately, you may only hear about the need for additional money….”Keep raising those funds.” Take some time this summer to spend with program staff, perhaps even shadow them for a day or two. Really learn the programs and how they operate. See firsthand how the programs and services are making a difference in the lives of people. Then, write these stories down so you can use them this fall. While you are at it, develop a system with the program staff to always know what is happening so you have new and fresh information to share with donors.
Prepare for the Annual Campaign
Many organizations raise a large percentage of their revenue between September and December. One of the ways this is done is with an Annual Campaign. Unfortunately, the annual campaign often gets slighted in the amount of time and preparation that is spent on it. Spend some time now determining what the focus of the letter will be and the stories that will be shared in it. Write the letter now so it can be tweaked and proofed without the pressure of a looming mailing date. Remember, to be most successful, connect with the reader’s head and heart.
It looks like you will have plenty to do as you prepare for the fall fundraising season. We can help your organization in each of these areas. Contact us today!