School’s out for summer!
We’re only a few days into the holidays, and already you can feel the pace slowing down.
The rush hour commute feels less crowded, my inbox is bursting with out of office replies, and friends and colleagues are setting off on summer adventures near and far.
This can be a tough time of year to fundraise - I know how difficult it can be to stay motivated and keep working to reach your goals when it feels like everyone else in the world is sittin’ on the dock of the bay.
Here are six ways you can keep up your momentum during July and August – and put the summer fun back in fundraising.
1. 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?
2. Get to know your donors better
Speaking of donor meetings, summer is the prime time to land that coveted face to face meeting with a major donor.
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 changes 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?
3. Polish up your skills
I’ve been fundraising for more than 20 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 during the 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?
4. Get an accountability buddy
Finding it hard to keep yourself accountable to your fundraising plan, and meet 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 are tempted to give in to the summer doldrums.
Finding an accountability buddy can be simple – I'll bet you have at least one like-minded fundraiser in your network who is interested in checking in on a regular basis to cheer each other on, and hold one another accountable for setting goals, and meeting your deadlines.
5. 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 time 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.
6. Take. Your. Vacation.
A recent study revealed that North Americans have the lowest paid vacation time of 21 different countries.
And not only that – we don’t even take the small amount of vacation time we’re entitled to!
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.
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?
Emma Lewzey, CFRE is an award-winning fundraising expert with 20+ years experience raising over $100M across the arts, education, health and human services sectors. Find out how to raise more 5, 6 and 7-figure donations your non-profit - book your free Major Gift Strategy Session now.