Your Plan for Summer Fun(draising)
Review your resources. While you're reconnecting with the projects, take time to inventory your photos and stories. Do you already have what you will need for the next several months of storytelling and fundraising? If not, start asking now. Waiting until you are desperate can mean that you have to settle for "good" instead of holding out for "great." What's the photo you always wanted but never get? Can you find a stock photo online that you can point to and say, "This is the look I want. Can you authentically replicate that at the project?" Are there stories that seem to never get told because no one has the time to write them down? Brainstorm with your staff how you can capture those stories, and excite them so much about the potential value of a great story that they make getting resource for you a priority for their summer.
Go through your sample file and get inspired. You've been putting aside direct mail and email that caught your eye, that was especially effective in making a case, or that did a particularly good job in screaming to be read. Go through those now and weed out the ones that have lost their shine over the months, then closely review the others to see what it is that makes them stand out. What takeaways can you incorporate into your own program? If you don't have a sample file (both electronic and paper for mailings—unless you are one of those overachievers who scans everything), do two things:
- Make today the day you begin your sample file. No more excuses. Figure out how to get your hands on other people's fundraising; this will probably mean making some small donations but you'll be thankful come next tax season—and every time you look at a letter or email you receive from those organizations and it triggers your next great fundraising idea.
- Check out Who's Mailing What! for the nonprofit e-appeals and direct mail letters they have scanned and have available. Ones for donor acquisition are often "controls," meaning they are mailed over and over—a sign not of a lazy fundraiser, but of one who has found something that works and knows that you can successfully use it again and again until you find something that does better. In all cases, look at the piece and ask, "Is there something here that could be adapted for us?" If not, move on to the next one.
Plan your year-end fundraising campaign. There are 186 days until 2016—186 days to make 2015 your most successful fundraising year ever. One-hundred-and-eighty-six days to build deeper relationships with donors that will not only make 2015 great, but will give you a strong start in 2016. Don't squander those 186 days! Start planning your year-end fundraising calendar now. Your sample files should have inspired you (if for no other reason than to prove to you that you can do better). Your review of resources has shown what holes need to be filled so you have what you need to make your year-end fundraising powerful. So, now you need to develop a schedule (or refine an existing one), talk to your vendors to make sure you are allowing them enough time at what may be a busy season for them, and look over your budget so you know what you have to invest and where donations are needed if funds are designated. There's no excuse for missing fundraising opportunities at year-end; you know it's coming, so prepare now. You'll thank yourself come December 31.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.