The summer months at most nonprofits means a slowdown in charitable giving. Why not put your feet up and take a few months to relax, right? Wrong! Instead of letting the summer pass you by, take advantage of the downtime to start planning for the future.
While your organization’s fundraising efforts may taper off during this time, there are several things that nonprofit organizations could be doing to be ready to tackle upcoming fall and winter campaigns.
Here’s 6 ways you can make the most of summer downtime to help you best prepare for the rest of the year.
“Here’s 6 ways you can make the most of summer downtime to help you best prepare for the rest of the year.” tweet this
Create A Fundraising Plan
Use the slower summer months to outline a fundraising plan and calendar for your organization. Start by outlining fundraising goals and brainstorming strategies you could take to make those goals a reality, then start outlining your strategic plan.
At CauseVox, we’ve made the planning part easier for you by creating a fundraising plan and goals worksheet, which includes templates for writing out your key fundraising objectives, plans to assist in implementing your fundraisers and a place to document fundraising goals.
In addition to strategic planning, the summer is also the perfect time to create a fundraising calendar that complements your plan. On top of documenting important deadlines and event dates, your calendar can also include important internal meetings and meetings with donors and prospective donors.
“The summer is also the perfect time to create a fundraising calendar that complements your plan.“ tweet this
Conduct Prospect Research
Prospect research — gathering background information, giving histories, and wealth markers of prospective donors — is a time consuming necessity in the nonprofit world. So, using the downtime during the summer months to conduct research or update your database makes perfect sense.
Prospect research can be conducted through a variety of avenues. If you chose to conduct research yourself, there are several online options to assist you. Wealthengine.com and Donor Search can provide you with a variety of wealth-related information on your prospects. And Noza Search can assist in finding information on past donations.
If the thought of digging through the internet to find prospect information is overwhelming, consider hiring a consulting company to provide additional assistance or staff training. Prospect research firms are also available to conduct research on behalf of your organization.
Whether you conduct the research yourself or hire someone to do it for you, the end result should be a donor profile for each prospect. The profile should include basic demographic information, current contact information, past donation information, other notable charitable contributions, professional information, memberships, and wealth markers.
After the research is complete, it can be used to clean up your current database and in strategic planning efforts. In addition to helping your fundraisers understand the number of prospective donors available, it will also allow them to begin crafting solicitation plans to secure future donations.
Start Planning For Year-End Fundraising Efforts
Just because the end of the year is still months away, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. With a huge chunk of charitable giving taking place during the last few weeks of the year, the end-of-year is an integral time for fundraising.
Take time during the slower summer months to begin crafting an end-of-year-specific fundraising plan that will take you through January 1. Start by outlining your goals for the season, then begin crafting a plan to achieve those goals.
Brainstorm ways in which your organization can market your fundraising efforts, what avenues of giving you will use, and how your campaign can stand out among the crowd. Be sure to outline ways in which you will measure your success, as well.
Prepare For Your Annual Report
Although your annual report probably won’t be released for several months, there are a few elements of the document you can tackle during the less hectic summer months. Hold off on adding the financial information until it’s available and instead start working on the human interest aspects of the report.
Planning for your annual report during the summer can begin with collecting story ideas. Reach out to donors, board members, staff and beneficiaries to find inspiring stories that your annual report’s readers can connect with.
In addition to outlining story ideas, the summer is also a great time to start capturing photos that could be used in the publication. Take advantage of the sunny days and smiling faces that come in the summer months and snap some great graphic images for future use.
Host A Simple Fundraiser
Just because fundraising typically slows during the summer months, doesn’t mean it has to come to a screeching halt. In fact, the laid-back atmosphere of the summer months lends itself perfectly to simple fundraising campaigns.
Take advantage of the fact that kids are out of school and community members are seeking out fun activities to occupy their time by hosting a creative event like one of these:
- BBQ Contest
- Car Wash
- Outdoor Movie Night
- Pool Party
- Eating Contest
- Scavenger Hunt
- Art Show
And if an outdoor event doesn’t fit into your fundraising plans, online fundraising is also a great possibility during the summer. A summer-themed peer-to-peer campaign can give your supporters a chance to champion your cause during their time off.
Conduct A Marketing Audit
A marketing audit is a snapshot of your organization’s marketing efforts, evaluated in relation to your group’s overall marketing goals and benchmarks. Conducting an audit of your marketing efforts during the slow summer months can allow your organization to fine-tune its marketing plan and ensure that your strategy is effective.
To begin your audit, gather all of your marketing and communication materials from the past year for future reference. Then, start conducting research by asking the following questions:
- What are the goals of our marketing efforts and how do these goals compare to other organizations similar to ours?
- What do our potential donors and volunteers want and value?
- What do we need these potential donors and volunteers to do in order to achieve our goals?
- Are our messages relevant to our potential donors and volunteers? How can we make our messages more motivating?
- Where can we find our target audience? When do they engage with our organization the most?
- Who are our competitors? How are they engaging with our target audience?
Use the information gathered during your research to assess your current marketing materials. Take note of what has worked in the past and what has not. Also, assess how your current marketing collateral adheres to your organization’s overall messaging and branding.
When your audit is complete, immediately implement any suggested changes. Get rid of what isn’t working and begin incorporating ideas that could be more successful.
Whether you decide to add a simple summer fundraiser or engage in strategic planning efforts, there’s no excuse for slacking off during the summer months. Instead, take advantage of the summer downtime by using it to enhance your organization’s fundraising efforts and expanding your organization’s reach.