Dig in a.s.a.p. to these tested and terrific ways to get your people out of the heat and into action—shared by peer fundraisers and communicators in the field. There’s no better source of ideas, guidance, and support!
Personalize to Connect!
Here’s where you rely on your robust, reliable donor management software. The more you know and log about your prospects and donors, the better you’ll connect with them.
Connect with Your Patrons, Donors, and other Supporters via THEIR Summer Habits and Passions
When I coach folks on communicating to donors, it’s one-on-one—an individual strategy. I don’t advise them to feature Hawaiian shirts and mai tais on their communications. But every communication needs to consider the audience, so I guess we naturally consider it. People leaving or arriving for the summer have different agendas and needs.
If the recipient is “in town” for the summer, we explore why she’s interested in the nonprofit. What causes her to support a charity while on vacation? From there, we create a strategy. —Marc Pitman, Fundraising Coach
Communications goals remain the same, but the way to reach them changes depending on your audiences
I work with a few organizations that focus on reaching youth. They have to adjust their communications approaches to compensate for the schedule and location shift many youths have during the summer. So when summer comes, these organizations shift from relying on schools as primary messaging intermediaries to relying on a mix of parents, friends, employers, summer school, and after-school programs as intermediaries. They also continue to reach out to youth directly. And they adjust how they cultivate a sense of urgency during the lazy days of summer. —Lauren Giradin, Marketing and Communications Consultant
Cultivate Creative Content Changes
Fewer Hooks But More Room for Creativity
My clients have sometimes struggled to fill their summer content calendars because there are fewer established hooks.
I’ve created several editorial calendars for clients that have included activities like the end of the school year, summer break, summer school, back to school shopping, Pride month, beaches, vacations, positive body image (swimsuit season), relaxation, and summer reading lists. Sometimes they’ll create content about those topics, other times it will just inspire a mood shift. Like this! —Lauren Giradin, Marketing and Communications Consultant
Do It a Little Differently
Once again, your consistent use of a solid donor database enables you to bring these first two methods to life. No worries if you’re not there yet. Start today!
Ask committed donors to step up when others won’t
This short-term pledge approach is a time-honored tactic for “summer slump” fundraising. Alerting donors to the fact that giving slows during the summer, your charity asks them to make an advance three-month commitment near the beginning of the summer to help cover unmet and critical needs.
Making this same appeal via digital is more donor-friendly; rather than sending a lump payment up front or remembering to send follow-up checks, donors can fill out a single form and have their credit card charged for the three payments. This also ensures a greater return for the charity, since fulfillment is assured. Moreover, it allows the use of proven web-based sustainer tactics to cross-promote the special commitment, including mid-conversion lightbox treatments and takeover pages. —Scott VanderLay, Russ Reid
Our donors are relaxing, and we capitalize on that!
For fundraising we usually try to get at least two board members to host fun, informal parties during the summer to engage their friends in our cause and grow our list (and make a little money.) –Gillian Ream Gainsley, Communications and Development, Ypsilanti Public Library
We slowed our email earlier in the summer, back up now that it’s August
The main audiences for our School Health newsletter are PE and health teachers, principals, school district administrators, and public health folks interested in school-age kids. We know some of them are still in the office, but we give it a little break.
We don’t publish our newsletter for K-12 audiences in June or July but just started it up again now that it’s August. —Laura Norvig, Digital Media Strategist, ETR
As the News Cycle Slows, there’s More Room to Cover Your Cause
(but maybe NOT in this crazy election year!)
Summer’s a great time to do briefings with reporters about upcoming news items. Publishers looking to maintain content and interest may be more receptive to your stories than they are when their editorial calendars are overflowing with items that need coverage. For instance, when Congress is out of session, reporters who cover Congress have down time. You can set up a time to meet with them and explain issues that need more in-depth understanding. —Patricia Brooks, MatchMap Media
Focus on Specifically-Summer Needs
Arguably the best approach to summer fundraising is to focus on real, urgent challenges that the summer months bring.
Is the summer heat a growing danger for your clients experiencing homelessness? This should be your focus. Are children more vulnerable to chronic hunger in the months they don’t receive school lunches? That’s a powerful reason to ask donors to get involved. —Scott VanderLay, Russ Reid
How are you adapting your outreach for these last dog days of summer? Please share your approach here!