Summer is coming: 3 ways you can use the next 6 weeks wisely

Smiling girl wearing sunglasses lies on a red and white striped beach towel.

I was flipping through my calendar yesterday, still basking in the glow of a relaxing long weekend, when it dawned on me.

Only six more weeks until summer.

Although the May long weekend is often thought of as the unofficial start of summer, savvy fundraisers know the countdown is on, and these next few weeks before school lets out are crucial ones.

Here are three ways you can use this precious time wisely.

Call your donors – right now!

If your organization is working with major donors (and there is no reason every organization shouldn’t be!) you need to prioritize donor calls and meetings, right now.

Certainly, all your donors won’t be disappearing to their cottage for the summer - in fact, for some major donors, a more relaxed business schedule can make it an ideal time to meet.

Either way, this is the perfect time to make sure you're in your donor’s calendar for some face time before things ramp up again in the fall.

Are you looking for a good reason to meet with your donors? Here are a few of my favourites:

  • The getting-to-know-you visit: if you’re going to be successful at raising major gifts, you must understand your donor, what’s important to them, what values they hold dear, and what motivates them to give.

  • The advice visit: do you have any new programs in the pipeline, or changes ahead for your organization? It’s a great time to get your donor involved, bounce around some ideas with them, and ask for their thoughts and feedback.

  • The site visit: nothing can bring your programs to life better than a well-planned site visit to one of your programs. Can’t do a site visit? Bring the program to the donor! Have a passionate program staff member join your meeting to bring your work to life through great storytelling.

Plan to use your summer wisely

I know it’s painful to be thinking ahead to the snowy season in our all too brief Canadian summer – but this is a crucial time to lay the groundwork for successful year-end fundraising.

September will be here before we know it – how can you use the quieter months of July and August to make sure you have the best fundraising year yet?

  • Write your holiday copy in July: if you’re wearing all the fundraising hats in a small shop, I’m sure October has found you racing against the clock to meet multiple holiday copy deadlines. Can you schedule in some regular weekly writing time over the summer to get ahead?

  • Create a story bank: imagine how much easier life will be if you have a wonderful story to tell each time you meet a donor, craft some fundraising copy, or write a proposal? Use your downtime to stock a story bank, and you’ll be set when the busy season hits.

  • Draft your plan: if you don’t already have a fundraising plan, there could be no better use of your time than creating one now. It’s never too late – and a good plan will help you raise more money by keeping you, your board and your ED focused on what’s most important.

Book your vacation

But wait a sec, you might be thinking – I thought this article was about using your limited time to raise more money!

If you think you’re serving your cause and your donors better by not taking your vacation, you’re fooling yourself. Take some time off, plan to fully unplug from the office, and return refreshed and ready to rock that fundraising plan!

If you aren’t taking your vacation time you are running the risk of burning out – and a burnt out fundraiser is no good to anyone.

How will you use the next six weeks before summer holidays arrive? Do you have special plans for the quieter months of summer to help boost your fundraising results for the year? And most importantly, have you booked your vacation time yet?

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