Get Your People Out of the Heat & Into Action

We’re officially one month into summer, so don’t waste a moment in heating up your communications and results with season-specific approaches.

To find the most effective ways to do so, I asked colleagues in the field what (if anything) they do differently to heat up summer giving and other actions. These superstars came back with this slew of great practices:

Is Summer: Sizzling or Slow for Your Organization (and Your Role)?
The Jury’s Still Out

Some Slowdown! We Plan, Invent, and Prep for a Fast-Paced Fall

Plan & Prep
I’m going to take the time to revamp our approach to email timing and volume, and I’m very excited. We have a broad idea of where we’re going right now but it’ll take a few months to plan the exact details and roll out our new program.   –Anna Besmann, Marketing and Communications Associate, Interfaith Youth Core

Invent
I just did a quick survey of people who’ve clicked in member newsletter to get feedback. Looking to revamp to easier to read graphical layout and experimenting with bimonthly, shorter updates instead of longer monthly email.    —Megan Keane, Membership Director, NTEN

Downtime? What Downtime?
Slow down in summer? I recall there being one when I started 20 years ago. But now it seems to go faster and faster every year.   —Marc Pitman, Fundraising Coach

Well, there’s less messaging in part because it’s not NTC time (our annual conference)! But otherwise, we make no seasonal shifts with communications. Although I’m always torn by trying to make a special push for engagement during traditionally quieter months vs. going with it and accepting that people are on vacation and hopefully not reading email!  –Megan Keane, Membership Director, NTEN

We just continue as in the rest of the year. Nothing changes.  —Jean Gazis, Communications Associate, Legal Momentum

Business as Usual, THEN Downtime

The first half of or summer is intense! June 30 was the end of our FY, so in June we pushed for year-end gifts and made a lot of specific asks. “Sally, you gave last year and we accomplished XYZ things. Will you support the college again this year?”

We almost always have an end-of-the-year match by one of or trustees to encourage second gifts as well. Now, through August we’re in slow down mode as students are gone and we have fewer stories to tell. We spend those months doing thank you postcards, creating a year in review video, and teasing larger upcoming projects.   —Rebecca Henderson, Assistant Director of Communication for Development and Alumni Relations, Lasell College

Focus on Summer Programming and Outdoor Events—
The Most Common Summertime Shift      

Programming
We shift pretty heavily, since libraries fill up as the schools empty out and we have a TON of summer programming. We tend to feature a lot more real-time what’s-happening-now content with kids having fun and people reading.   ­–Gillian Ream Gainsley, Communications and Development, Ypsilanti Public Library

Many organizations I work with focus on summer programs (camps, free lunch when school is out) or themes. Some send out messages less frequently—especially by U.S. mail, but keep their email outreach schedule all year round (with the typical boost at year end).  Dennis Fischman, Communications Consultant

Events
Many nonprofit organizations I work with focus big time on summertime fundraising events. Those that do walks, runs, golf tournaments, barbecues, etc., focus on turning people out to those events, and they do emphasize the fun and sociability to be had.

One organization working to support those who are homeless puts on a Save Our Homes Walk in May, a Taste of the City event in June, a barbecue in July, and a golf tournament in September. And most of their communications focus either on getting people out to the events.  Dennis Fischman, Communications Consultant

My Two Cents

Lighten Up
This time of year you want to be approachable. Even the most serious cause brands will want to embrace the mood, and shift tone and content to reflect the desire for feeling good, levity, unwinding, relaxation, and rewards for a hectic and accomplished first half of the year.

Bring Summer Vacation to Your Supporters and Prospects
Although vacation isn’t on the books for everyone, you can make it happen for them with vacation-themed events.

How are you adapting your outreach for summer, or not? Please share your approach here!

Nancy Schwartz on July 20, 2016 in Strategy | 1 comment

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