3 Ideas for Summer Fundraising to Sustain Donor Relations

Before you know it, your development team will be diving into fall events, Giving Tuesday, and year-end appeal planning.

Summer is the perfect season to explore new fundraising ideas so that your donors do not take a vacation from your charity, too.


The challenge of summer fundraising

In general, summer is the lowest giving season of the year. Some refer to it as the “summer drought” or “summer slump.” This happens for several reasons: donors go on vacation, donors prefer giving in the holiday season, and donors often have planned giving for mainstay charity events and year-end gifts.


Summer fundraising — an opportunity you should not ignore

While it may be the lowest giving season of the year, summer fundraising is heavily underestimated; it is full of potential.

First and foremost, summertime development initiatives advance donor satisfaction. And donor satisfaction improves donor retention for your important fall fundraising. 

Second, summer fundraising is less competitive. There are fewer nonprofits vying for your donor’s attention. Therefore, your organization has more of their time and attention (even if they are working ‘summer hours’).

Third, and finally, summer fundraising is a good time to take a risk on new development initiatives because less is riding on it. Plus, your development team is generally larger (i.e. summer interns) and has more time than in the fall, winter, and spring. Summer is the time for you and your development team to hone in on fundraising skills like grant writing, individual donor meetings, networking with organizations, CRM training, researching foundations, collaborating with other nonprofits, event planning — you name it; summer is the time to take a fundraising risk.


3 ideas for summer fundraising to sustain donor relations

  1. Try a Giving Day. These 24-hour social media campaigns are generally somewhat easy to put together if you have a realistic goal communicated with a sense of urgency. These are especially effective if you can connect your campaign with something that is newsworthy. For inspiration, check out these five stellar examples.
  2. Give a donor cultivation tour. Invite your donors to tour your facility. If that is not possible, do a virtual tour on Facebook and Instagram. Tours are great for connecting with donors face-to-face or screen-to-screen. This time is invaluable for building genuine rapport. These are also a great way to connect with some of your loyal supporter’s networks and then follow-up with an individual meeting, all well before your fall ‘asks’.
  3. Start a summer stories series. Prep your donors for the fall with an inspiring communication campaign. Remind them why they love you and how their previous donations are making a tangible impact. Consider sharing stories of those in your network you don’t normally highlight in your social media, website, or newsletters. For example, your donors, organizational partners, volunteers, interns, staff, and Board of Directors. 


Steps to take now

Now is the time to focus on engaging with your donors to sustain relationships. This means:

  • Try new and interesting fundraising initiatives. Brainstorm at your next development meeting initiatives that would be quick to throw together, cost-effective, and most importantly, engaging for your donors.
  • Communicate messages that inspire. Review your organization’s messages from the past 12-months. Are they inspiring? Do any of your messages not include an ask?
  • Make sure your organization has the right platforms to advance your summer fundraising initiatives. Having the right technology is critical.

What summer fundraising ideas are you trying this year? Let us know over on Twitter @boodleAI.