The Dog Days of Summer Fundraising

It’s the 25th of June—summer has officially just begun—and already Atlanta temperatures have shot into the 90s. Yesterday, my car registered 113 degrees on the Friday afternoon parking lot in Atlanta that is otherwise known as Interstate 285.

As I sat on the I-285 Perimeter, I was trying to think of all the things I like about summer: long evenings, screened porches, iced tea, going to the beach, and, when the real heat hits in August, escaping to the mountains. And I find that summer is always a good time to make plans to catch up with friends and family in the extra hours of sunshine each day.

In the fundraising productivity department, though, summer can have its challenges: your Board may take a mid-summer hiatus, and staff members are scheduling their well-earned vacation weeks before fall fundraising kicks in. If your fiscal year ends May 31 or June 30, you’ve also probably been working the phones non-stop to bring in the final annual fund gifts to meet (or exceed!) the giving year goal. 

So what can you do in June, July, and August to have a positive impact on summer fundraising? Here’s my advice: Take the time to “reunion” with some of your donors, just like you might be planning to do with your family and friends.

If you have older donors, especially those living in retirement communities, they are likely to be in residence all summer. They will welcome your calling them or stopping by to say thanks for their support, and to share with them a mission-inspired story.

Your corporate and foundation donors may find their own work and travel schedules less hectic in the summer, giving you more of a chance to share your personal appreciation for their grants and sponsorships. They may even have more time to accept your invite to see your programs in action.

Did your annual fund bring in new donors this year? Then consider a mid-summer ‘thank-a-thon.” Ask your Board volunteers and program staff members to take a few minutes each week to write personal notes of thanks or make thank you phone calls to first-time donor. You will find that these donors will be gratified, and honored, that someone in addition to the development staff noticed.

And if you are particularly lucky, one of your donors will have a shady screened porch and a big pitcher of iced tea (or some beverage served with ice) waiting for you.

Happy summer!