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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Maximizing Summer Lulls: Planning for Your Year-End Campaign

Updated: May 29

As the temperature rises and summer vacations beckon, it's easy to fall into a lull during the slower fundraising months. However, savvy fundraisers know that the summer provides a golden opportunity to strategize and lay the groundwork for a successful year-end campaign. By taking advantage of this downtime, you can position your organization for greater impact and increased donations when the bustling holiday season arrives. In this blog post, we'll explore ideas to maximize the slower summer months and set the stage for a powerful year-end campaign. And, remember, you don’t have to and can’t do it all—choose one or two ideas that feel the most manageable and get started.

Reflect on Past Campaigns: The summer is an ideal time to reflect on the successes and challenges of previous year-end campaigns. Evaluate the strategies that worked well and those that fell short. Analyze your fundraising data, engagement metrics, and donor feedback to gain insights that will inform your planning process. By understanding what worked before, you can build upon your strengths and avoid repeating mistakes.

Set Clear Goals: Define your objectives for the year-end campaign. Are you aiming to increase the number of donors, boost average donation amounts, or reach a specific fundraising target? Setting clear and measurable goals will help you stay focused and track progress throughout the campaign. Additionally, it allows you to align your strategies and messaging accordingly.

Develop Compelling Stories: Powerful and ethical storytelling is the heart of any successful fundraising campaign. Use the summer months to identify and craft compelling stories that resonate with your audience, and uphold the dignity of your beneficiaries. Highlight the impact of your organization's work and demonstrate the positive change you're striving to achieve. Personal stories and testimonials from beneficiaries, volunteers, or donors can evoke emotions and inspire potential supporters.

Enhance Donor Relationships: Summer is an excellent time to strengthen your relationships with existing donors. Reach out to express gratitude for their ongoing support and keep them updated on your organization's activities. Consider hosting informal gatherings or simply getting together for coffee to connect on a personal level. These interactions can foster a sense of belonging and encourage increased engagement when the year-end campaign rolls around.

Gather and Manage Good Data: Take advantage of the slower pace during the summer to clean up your database and conduct donor research. Run reports and identify and correct name misspellings, duplicate entries, and other incorrect data. Identify your most dedicated supporters and potential major donors. Utilize wealth screening tools, conduct prospect research, and segment your donor database based on giving history, preferences, and capacity. This information will help you tailor your messaging and target your year-end appeals more effectively.

Leverage Digital Channels: Digital fundraising has become increasingly important, and the summer months offer ample time to enhance your online presence. Optimize your website, update your social media profiles, and create engaging content that tells your organization's story. Build anticipation for the year-end campaign by sharing success stories, behind-the-scenes content, and sneak peeks of upcoming initiatives. Implement strategies to grow your email list and expand your reach.

Plan an Engaging Campaign Timeline: Create a detailed timeline for your year-end campaign, incorporating key milestones, deadlines, and promotional activities. Break down the campaign into manageable segments, such as launch, mid-campaign, and final push. Develop a communication schedule that includes email appeals, social media updates, and other forms of engagement. Planning ahead ensures a consistent and coordinated campaign, maximizing its impact.

Cultivate Corporate Partnerships: Use the summer months to cultivate relationships with potential corporate partners. Seek out businesses that align with your mission and values, and explore opportunities for sponsorships, cause-related marketing campaigns, or employee engagement initiatives. Strong corporate partnerships can significantly boost your year-end campaign by providing financial support, expanding your reach, and increasing credibility.

While the summer months may present a slower fundraising period, smart organizations see this as an opportunity to plan, prepare, and strategize for their year-end campaign. By reflecting on past experiences, setting clear goals, nurturing donor relationships, organizing engaging summer activities, crafting a compelling narrative, and leveraging technology, nonprofits can ensure a successful and impactful fundraising push when the year-end arrives. Embrace the summer season as a time for rejuvenation and preparation, and make the most of the opportunities it presents for your organization's growth.

There's so many avenues you can take for fundraising, but you can't take them all. How do you prioritize the people you should be reaching out to?

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Frances Roen is a Georgia girl at heart, and has been graciously adopted by beautiful, snowy Minnesota. She is a forty-something daughter, friend, mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and is always on the look-out for a perfectly fried piece of chicken.

Frances is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with nearly 20 years of experience fundraising and has raised over $200M for nonprofits. She has held fundraising positions at The Bakken Museum, Augustana Care Corporation, and YouthLink and consulted with dozens of nonprofits clients across the globe. In these roles she has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising including comprehensive campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual funds, events, communications, corporate partnerships and volunteers.

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