6 ways to get your fundraising back on track this summer

Can you believe it? 

We’re officially more than halfway through 2022. 

And if it feels like at some point between January 1st and now, your fundraising goals have fallen by the wayside…

I have something to help you get your goals back on track this summer (or winter, for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere!)

Here’s how to reset your goals at the midpoint of 2022 (or anytime you need a fundraising refresh!):

Stick with the plan 

Having your plan clearly laid out for the summer can be a real relief – it takes the guesswork out of what you’ll be focusing on, especially when your motivation wanes that week the office is empty because everyone has gone to the cottage! 

A great fundraising plan doesn’t have to be long, or complex – in fact, a simple plan focused on a handful of key priorities is often more effective than a long, complicated one.   

Are you stuck on creating a plan? The slower pace of summer can be a great time to start getting in the habit of becoming planful in your fundraising approach.

You can always start small - is there something you are already doing, like donor meetings, or a special event? Can you create a simple timeline in an Excel spreadsheet, document what you are doing when, and look for just one way to improve it? 

Get to know your donors better

Speaking of donor meetings, summer can be prime time to land that coveted face to face meeting with a major donor. 

While you do have to plan ahead to work around vacation schedules, I find the pace of business tends to slow a little, and everyone seems more relaxed and reflective – it can be a wonderful time to engage a donor in a deeper conversation about their giving, and what change they want to see in the world.

Maybe you can even book that donor lunch on a charming local patio – what could be better than doing some of your most important work as a fundraiser, and soaking up a little sun while you’re doing it?

Brush up your skills

I’ve been fundraising for 25 years, and I still regularly invest in professional development so I can make sure I’m staying current, and operating at the top of my game. 

I love to take courses or self-directed learning programs over the summer – not to mention catching up on all the reading I’ve been meaning to do this year.

You could take some of this downtime to create your own personal professional development plan. In what areas do you hope to develop to improve your fundraising, or further your career?  

Get an accountability buddy

Finding it hard to stay on track, and keep yourself accountable to working your fundraising plan, and meeting your goals? Think about getting an accountability buddy.

This can be especially helpful if you are working in a small shop - in addition to lessening the isolation you may feel as a fundraising team of one, having an accountability buddy can help stretch and challenge you when you may be tempted to give in to the summer doldrums.

Finding an accountability buddy can be simple – do you have a like minded fundraiser in your network who is interested in checking in on a regular basis so you can cheer each other on, and hold one another accountable for setting goals, and meeting your deadlines? 

Give yourself a break

Want to be a better fundraiser? Get in the habit of taking regular breaks during your workday! 

Productivity experts agree – taking regularly scheduled breaks every 75 to 90 minutes means you’ll be more effective at work, and get more done in less time.

This beautiful, fleeting summer weather is a great incentive to start getting in the habit of scheduling a time out for a quick walk around the block, or a lunch break in the local park. 

As effective as regularly scheduled breaks are, they aren’t a substitute for the ultimate burnout buster – taking a proper vacation. 

Take. Your. Vacation. 

Taking time to unplug and fully rest is crucial for your health and wellbeing. And it’s something we struggle with - especially here in North America. 

Americans last year took six fewer vacation days than the global average, according to Expedia’s annual “Vacation Deprivation” study.  

The research found that 59% of Americans felt vacation deprived and 72% reported being burned out. Respondents also indicated that pandemic-era flexible work arrangements can make it more difficult to unplug (54%), blurring the boundaries between time on and off the clock.

Our organizations are dealing with a significant burnout problem – and sacrificing one’s health in service of a cause is a common narrative in the nonprofit sector.

While vacation is not a cure-all for burnout, taking a proper break and completely unplugging from work is a critical part of the self-care you need to be the fabulous fundraiser and leader you are.  

If you have paid vacation time, make a commitment to yourself to take it. Book it now, get that time blocked off in your calendar, and make preparations to fully unplug.

Have I missed anything? What else are you doing to keep your fundraising fresh during these lazy, hazy days of summer? And perhaps most importantly – have you booked your vacation yet?

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