Jump Start your Fundraising!
Summer can be a slow time at many nonprofits, but it is a critical work period for high-performing development operations. The quiet summer months offer busy development staff time to revisit strategies, make modifications for the end of the fiscal year, or rev up efforts for the next quarter.
Making the most of summer downtime is not just efficient, it is wise. There is growing competition among nonprofits for donors. Moreover, donors are increasingly engaged and expecting nonprofits to demonstrate and communicate the impact of their support. By taking the time to evaluate your program’s progress to date you can fuel the final months of your fiscal year with the energy and creativity it needs.
Here are some tips from Blue Umbrella Fundraising to help you map out and execute a successful summer fund development strategy.
1. Culture of Philanthropy. How engaged is your staff in fundraising? If your colleagues are disengaged from fundraising, summer is a great time to host a brown bag presentation about fund development or to take a colleague out to coffee to discuss their role in fund development. By engaging your colleagues now you are increasing the likelihood that they will be supportive and effective fundraisers in the final months of the calendar year.
2. Board Leadership. Use your summer downtime to crystallize your vision, direction, and plan. As you prepare to make projections for next fiscal year or next quarter, summer is good time to engage your board’s development committee. It is also a good time to begin conversations with board members who may need extra support or encouragement to hit their giving and solicitation goals.
3. Systems and Infrastructure. Are all systems a go? Summer is the perfect time to assess your organization’s fundraising capacity. If you have not completed a development audit recently there are self-assessments available online to help you identify holes in your fund development program. If you are already aware of your organization’s growth areas, take some time this summer to research and test a new strategy or software you have always wanted to try.
4. Prospecting and Planning. If you plot fundraising tasks on the time management matrix, prospecting and planning can fall in the “important, but not urgent” category. While things are quiet, treat yourself to an offsite planning meeting to set and realign strategy for the coming quarter or year. You can also set up a regular time to do deep research on stuck prospects. Taking time now to define a new approach for these leads will give you fresh ideas to approach these prospects with confidence.
5. Communication and Cultivation. Many nonprofits rush communications or cultivation tasks during the spring because of a lack of time. With summer here, take some time to review key messaging and develop mini cases of support for some of your lesser known programs. Invest extra time to ensure that your touches are well thought out and well executed.
6. Stewardship and Metrics. Now is the time to make an honest assessment of how well you are engaging your current supporters. If you have not already sent out a donor or member engagement survey, the summer is the perfect time to do it. A survey is a “non-ask” touch that inspires confidence by demonstrating that your nonprofit is committed and responsive to its supporters.
Take the wheel. With today’s changing local and national landscape, individuals are looking for a clear, efficient response to their greatest philanthropic need. Put your plan into forward motion!