redumbrella 2015-Jun19
Summertime usually offers a little more flexibility with your time because there is less activity at your organization, and many of your donors are on vacation. This can give you the time to be really creative about making an impact on your caseload throughout the rest of the year.
I’m going to give you several different ideas for the summer. All of these ideas are meant to deepen your relationships with your donors. Plus, there are two added bonuses when you implement these ideas: 1) you’ll break up your year with trying different strategies, and 2) you’ll set yourself apart from your competition. No, I’m not talking about your colleagues; I’m talking about all the other nonprofits that are vying for attention and gifts from your caseload donors.
Richard and I know that many MGOs are not properly cultivating, stewarding and providing outstanding donor service to their caseload donors. YOU CAN!
So here are some different ideas for you to maximize the impact of your summer and set yourself apart.

  1. Visit your snowbirds. Almost every MGO I talk to laments how they can’t get in front of their donors because so many of them are down in Florida or Arizona from November to April. Well, summertime is the season to sit down with them. If you were really ahead of the game, you would have set up a time in February or March to meet over the summer; but you still have the opportunity to do that now. Many donors on your caseload that have a vacation home, if you’ve properly managed the relationship, should be eager to see what is happening at your organization. I know many MGOs who have created solid relationships with their donors who vacation in warmer weather in the winter, and their donors welcome them to fly down, visit and solicit them.
  2. Engage a donor in a completely different way. You may have found it difficult to get a donor to come visit your organization or to get them out for coffee or lunch. Summer offers so many activities. Take those donors that are hard to see and ask them to do something different with you. For example, take them to an event of another organization you know they care about, like a walk or a ride. Invite them to an outdoor festival or movie along with a group of donors. What about a ballgame? What you are doing here is trying to spark a new interest or approach the donor in a new way that you haven’t tried before. I know an MGO that took four of his major donors (two women and two men) to an outdoor poker tournament, and they had the time of their lives. This happened last summer, and these donors still talk about it. The MGO had been struggling to get these folks engaged, and now they regularly take his calls.
  3. Commit to learning something new about your job or your donors. Richard and I encourage MGOs to attend high-quality conferences or try an online class about major gifts that will enhance their skills. I also suggest to MGOs to find out at least one new bit of information about all of their “A” level donors. It could be learning more about his or her business, a hobby or a specific interest outside of their work. Whatever that is, commit yourself to learning something new about them. Make sure you record it in your database. You will use that information in your personal calls, notes and other communication throughout the rest of the year.
  4. Get out “in the field” and start collecting stories about those you and your donors serve. Take the time this summer to get involved in your mission. Bring a video recorder; take photos and write down stories you hear where your organization is making an impact. When you are with donors, you should be telling stories. Many times I hear MGOs say they just don’t have the time to get out and find those stories. Now is the time to do this. Gather those stories, videos and photos, and inspire your donors with them. Secondly, go interview your donors. A few MGOs I have worked with have conducted video interviews with their donors and asked them a few questions about why they give, what inspires them, etc. Not only does it help the donor engage more with the organization, but also it allows other staff to see how their organization is making an impact on donors’ lives. This is key to building a culture of philanthropy.

You can set yourself apart and create impact with your donors now and throughout the year, if you try a few different strategies. Richard and I want you to remember this: MGOs can easily find themselves doing the same things over and over again… even when those things don’t seem to be effective. Take this summer and shake it up a bit, and you’ll see good things happen.
Series details – Six Actions for Summer Impact that will Lead to Year-End Success

  1. Review Your Goals and Reassess
  2. Take a Deep Dive with your B and C Donors
  3. Take a Personal Retreat
  4. Clean Up Your Portfolio
  5. Set Yourself Apart & Do Something Different (this post)