The Dog Days of Summer
How is your summer going? Some of us are now taking a large amount of time off and enjoying life. For others, it continues to be the same old grind but a bit more frustrating. It is harder to secure private meetings or group meetings. Everyone is coming or going, and it is hard to settle down. You are thinking more about what you will be doing after work during work. If your fiscal year ends during the summer, you are in sprint mode to meet goals and beginning to seek new goals at the same time. In short, your groove seems out of whack. What can you do about it?
The term dog days in Dictionary.com means the sultry part of the summer that is supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun. Another term of meaning states it is a period of lethargy, inactivity or indolence.
Many organizations across the country use the dog day period of summer to sponsor fundraisers, benefiting dogs. Examples of events include dog walks, raffles and silent auctions, dog wash fundraisers, bar fundraisers for dogs, dunk-a-cop tank at a fair, dog show fundraisers, dog events at baseball games, beach parties for dogs, dog photo contests, community dog events, dog beauty contests and a variety of other fundraisers to showcase our canine friends. Many hospitals also showcase their volunteer dogs, which go room to room assisting sick children.
In addition to events specifically benefiting dogs, many nonprofit organizations attempt to take advantage of the summer months through the hosting of fundraising events. According DonorBox, it is suggested that these ideas are guaranteed to work and help your organization maintain a healthy boost of income during the summer. These ideas include water balloon fights, ice-cream parties, open-air movie screenings, barbecue extravaganzas, swim-a-thons, outdoor fitness clubs and summer excursions. It is suggested that you talk to your staff, board, volunteers and supporters, and ask them for advice for potential special events.
Classy notes that summertime provides opportunities for fundraising, but many nonprofits still struggle with engagement during summer months. It suggests the following 11 ways to help your team make this summer slump a productive time for your nonprofit.
These ideas are:
- Read all the reports. These include “Giving USA 2019,” “State of Modern Philanthropy 2019,” “World-Changing Work: The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience” and “M+R Benchmarks 2019,” to name a few.
- Start planning your giving Tuesday campaign. For example, reach out to your corporate partners and sponsors by sharing information with them.
- Evaluate your tech stack. If you need to update your CRM)to streamline donor relations, for example, use the time to evaluate your software.
- Plan your calendar. Look over the past year, evaluate your goals and determine missed opportunities using examples, such as the nonprofit SWOT analysis worksheet, fundraising calendar worksheet and a fundraising kit.
- Take an online course. This will level up your marketing knowledge, fundraising tactics, writing skills or organizational management abilities.
- Clean up on your email lists. Check to see if addresses are bouncing, what contacts are not opening their email? Locate and remove them from your lists. Cleaning lists will improve the long-term health of your email marketing strategy.
- Engage donors with casual events. Create relationship building events with boards, volunteers, donors, prospects, staff and other constituents. Seek face-to-face group opportunities in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
- Prospect and grow your network. Use summertime to get creative, and uncover potential supporters and seek visits with local businesses.
- Host focus groups. If your organization plans new initiatives, like campaigns, events, resources or tools, consider hosting a focus group for feedback.
- Create educational resources for fundraisers. Create an insightful and instructional new toolkit that provides comprehensive resources, such as tips, advice and templates, that potential fundraisers can use to get started.
- Plan your conference calendar. Seek to determine which conferences would be most beneficial to attend or present at a conference, for you or your staff.
hjc provides a few tips on how you can help your nonprofit throughout the summer months before the next year heats up. The first tip is to reflect on what you did well so far this year and what you can improve on for next season. Take the time to evaluate metrics. Put a plan together or modify an existing plan. A second tip is to say thank you to your nonprofit supporters.
Let them know what you are doing or have done with the money they gave your organization. Create impactful and personal communications that speak to them. Tip three is to evaluate your events to see if they are truly working and providing ROI. Tip four is to get out of the office and volunteer at a golf tournament, attend a staff social or just try to connect with others.
The dog days of summer can be a strange time for you. You have been running at 100 miles an hour with everyone else. Now everyone is slowing down for a time. You should do the same. Evaluate where you are and where you want to go. Review your operational plan and modify it for the next phase of your fundraising year. Relax with outside pursuits and take time to recharge. Seek to understand this time period and make the most of it. These days will soon pass, and the usual grind will return.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.