Fourth in a series: Six Things You Can Do This Summer to Help You Win in the 4th Quarter!
Learn something new.One of the great things about our work in fundraising, and specifically major gifts, is that there is always something new to learn. And summertime is the perfect opportunity to set aside time to do it.
Richard and I highly recommend taking time to participate in a high-quality industry conference or training. Notice I said high-quality, because (believe me) we’ve attended our share of bad conferences and fundraising trainings that were a complete waste of time.
I would recommend something from either the national or your local chapter of AFP. They typically have solid fundraising seminars with good content. (Our Major Gift Academy is pretty good, too.) But beyond a conference or training, here are some other ideas that you can take advantage of right now!

  1. Plan an on-site visit of one or more of your programs. Richard and I have talked about this a lot in our blog, but you can never get enough programs. You have to know what you’re talking about with your donors – and the best way to do that is to volunteer for a day, or a week, and get to know first-hand what your organization does.
  2. Spend time with finance to learn about the numbers. You can get a lot of information you’ll need for donors.
  3. Take time to learn your donor database software. I can’t tell you how many MGOs have no clue how to get reports, enter in data and seek information from their own donor database. It’s sad and frustrating for people who have to work with them. So this summer, take some time to learn the ins and outs of your own database. You’ll be empowering yourself, and you’ll make life much easier for the people who have to help you figure it all out. And you’ll be amazed at how a better understanding of your own database can help you in your work.
  4. Take an Excel course. Yes, I’m getting really specific here. I’m not saying you have to be a wiz at Excel, but you should know the basics. If you have to be involved in putting together any kind of report for management or creating a budget, 9 times out of 10 you’ll need to know Excel. Take the time to learn it. You and the people around you will benefit greatly. No excuses that you are too busy this summer. Now is the time.
  5. Do some reading! There are a lot of great magazine articles and blogs out there that can be really helpful. Besides going back into the archives of our Passionate Giving Blog, I recommend the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Future Fundraising Now, and The Agitator, just to name a few. There is just a ton of good materials out there, so take some time to bookmark them or print them out and bring them with you to the beach to read.

If you can do even a few of these things this summer, just think how prepared you’ll be for your busiest time of the year. Learn something new this summer. It will make you happy.
Read the whole series — Summertime Lessons:

  1. Summertime Lesson #1: Create New Plans for Donors Behind Goal
  2. Summertime Lesson #2: Figure Out Who Your Donors Are
  3. Summertime Lesson #3: Get Ahead of the Game!
  4. Summertime Lesson #4: Learn Something New! (this post)
  5. Summertime Lesson #5: Get Deep with Some Donors. Do Something Crazy!
  6. Summertime Lesson #6: Get Some Rest and Get Inspired!