Jeff and I have been friends for a long time — both personally and professionally. We often bend each other’s ear about fundraising and he’s one of the people in my circle who I reach out to for advice and new perspectives. And Jeff’s a straight shooter. So, I thought I’d ask him for his candid recommendations to nonprofits on what to work on this summer. Here’s what he said:
SS: What do smart nonprofits do during the summer to get ready for fall?
JB: Use the lull in activity to get ahead for the final months of the year. It’s gonna get crazy — and the crazier the better! So know exactly what fundraising activities you are going to be doing. Dates and descriptions. And get started on it now.
SS: Of those things, what’s the most important and why?
JB: Most important is having your plan in place. If you don’t know what to do and when to do it, you’ll be distracted by the craziness and not working on the things that matter most.
SS: What’s an example of a successful summer fundraising campaign that you’ve seen?
JB: When the topic has something to do with the season. Like raising money for hungry children who are not getting the subsidized school lunches and breakfasts they get during the year. Or offers having to do with the challenges posed by hot weather. It may surprise you that appeals about the “Summer Slump” in giving often do well. Just be honest with donors and tell them how giving drops in the summer but the need for services stays high.
SS: If there was one thing you could have nonprofits focus on this fall, what would it be?
JB: Make sure you have the systems in place to treat donors well even when things get crazy. You MUST be able to acknowledge gifts promptly no matter how busy you get. Systems things like that really matter!
So, there you have it, folks! Make a plan, work ahead this summer, and build donor-focused systems. If you’re already doing these, well done! If not, this is a great “short list” of things to work on thus summer.