What Summer is Good for

on in Fundraising

Summer’s a terrible time for fundraising.

Heard that one before?

I hear it every year, from clients, board members, donors…it’s as if everyone gives up and heads for the beach – or wishes they had.

But unfortunately, the need to pay the rent, electricity, salaries, benefits – doesn’t slow down.

So what’s myth and what’s reality about summer fundraising?


Myth:  In the summer, everyone is focused on family, friends and fun, so no one has time to pay attention to the fundraising drive of their local nonprofit.

Reality:  You just have to go where the people are. Try a family picnic, or a pool party, or some other activity that acknowledges that summer’s here and the kids are hanging around. Alternatively, you may have a donor base whose children are away at summer camp – leaving them footloose and fancy free in the evening. What about a mint julep party on a sultry summer evening? How to find out? Decide who you most want to reach…and ask them.

Myth:  Donors are away during the summer. All summer. It’s impossible to engage them between June and September.

Reality:  They may be away, but that doesn’t mean they’re not capable of wanting to make a difference in the world. Try an email or web-based campaign – many people use their summer vacations to catch up on non-work-related interests. At the very least, you’ll remind them of all the good work still going on that they helped make possible.b2ap3_thumbnail_lemonadestand.jpg

Myth:  You can’t get volunteers to put in time over the summer – if you haven’t organized your team by mid-June, you can just forget about it till September.

Reality:  It is just about impossible to get a group of volunteers (or board members) together for an in-person meeting in the heart of summer. I just tried to schedule an in-person meeting of my board’s fundraising committee, and once we finished hop-scotching through everyone’s summer vacation, we landed on September 1st! But it’s not impossible to schedule conference calls to keep an early-fall campaign on track.

And it is possible to meet with people one-on-one – to update them on your agency’s work, to ask for a leadership commitment for a fall campaign, to help them (and you) figure out how they’re going to help you over the next year.

So use the summer to think, to plan, and to line up the dominoes one by one.

And to relax – it’s gonna be a busy fall, so catch up on your R & R, now.

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