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July 01, 2016

Six Ways to Spend Your Summer “Vacation”

Summer can be a frustrating time for development professionals. Scheduling meetings is difficult because donors and potential donors are on vacation or at their lake houses or busy with family events. Most organizations’ boards don’t even meet over the summer, signaling that for volunteers, summer can be “time off.”

How can you take advantage of summer’s challenges to prepare for greater success next year?

Six Things to Do With Your Summer “Vacation”

Go on a Picnic
Select from the wide range of menu options at the take-out deli, customizing your picnic to match your tastes.
  • Are you presenting all of your potential donors with the same buffet of philanthropic opportunities, or are you sharing an à la carte selection crafted to each donor’s passions?
Grab a Great Summer Read
  • Are you up to date on all of the latest literature on donor motivation and giving trends?
  • When you peruse your organization’s website:
    • Is there information you find surprising, incomplete, or incorrect?
    • From a potential donor’s standpoint, is it inspiring and easy to use?
Take a Swim
Once in the water, pick a destination and get there—by freestyle or backstroke or whatever—in the most efficient way possible.
  • In your development work, are you taking purposeful strokes or just treading water or paddling around?
  • What would help you be more efficient in your use of time?
  • How can you help donors move to the right on the Donor Commitment Continuum most effectively?
  • What are you doing especially well?
  • What would you like to do better?
Indulge in an Ice Cream Sundae
What flavor of experience are you providing for your donors?
  • Vanilla: we give donors the same steady experience every time; or
  • Rocky Road: things are dire—we desperately need your support; or
  • Rainbow Sherbet: our big pot of gold is just over the horizon—won’t you help us find it?; or
  • Triple Chocolate Fudge: our engagement experiences are rich and meaningful.
Maybe you really like vanilla—but how does it set you apart from all those other organizations that are also trying to engage donors and inspire their philanthropy?
Weed Your Garden
  • Are you tending to potential donors that you continue to cultivate but who, upon deeper analysis, will never produce?
  • Are these people taking important nutrients and attention away from those who are truly high-potential contributors?
If so, remove them from your portfolio, and free yourself to concentrate your attention on deepening engagement with those who can grow into major donors.
Take in a Baseball Game
Eat hot dogs, peanuts, and snow cones while you observe the teams in action. How does each player perform his role? How are the positions different, yet similar in that when each contributes at maximum ability, the team succeeds in grand ways?
  • Does your development team function at top capability?
  • Are your players in the right positions?
  • Do they have the right coaching at the right times to help them achieve optimal performance?

Summer is an ideal time to refresh and renew through analysis and education. Taking a few minutes to thoughtfully consider these six areas can be a great investment of energy and help position you for another successful fundraising year.

Other posts you might be interested in:

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Too Soon? It's About the Timing

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Getting to Know You

The Super Powers of Observation: How They Help a Successful Fundraising Professional

The Super Powers of Observation: How They Help a Successful Fundraising Professional

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