It’s already mid-June, and summer will soon be officially upon us. For 8 years I was a development director for two non-profits in Philadelphia, and I loved summer. That’s because it wasn’t as crazy with events as other times, and people were on vacation, so summer allowed me a little more time to think and plan.
In my second or third year in the job, I realized that if I was going to make my goals and have a great end of year, summertime is when I had to plan it all. So today I’m going to tell you what I learned in all those subsequent years about how to use your summer effectively.
Hang these up in your office space so you can reference it over the next 90 days!
- Re-evaluate your caseload, take out donors who should not be in it, and add those that are waiting in the wings. Review with mid-level donor team.
- Upgrade and downgrade your portfolio by reviewing your tiered donors and evaluate whether they should be moved between levels A, B and C.
- Identify donors who are behind goal, figure out why, and then review the current plan and change if necessary.
- Do a deeper dive into your B and C level donors through research.
- Volunteer for a few days in a row with the work your organization does.
- Interview five of your major donors about their story and why they invest in your organization.
- Take a board member out for lunch and explain what you do.
- Meet with all your snow-bird donors who are now back in town.
- Take a course to further your career.
- Thank all of the donors in your portfolio with a handwritten note by end of August.
- Take at least a two-week vacation.
- When you are on vacation, send a postcard to specific donors who will appreciate it. No one gets postcards anymore!
- Take four donors that don’t know each other to a ballgame together.
- Sit down with your colleagues in the direct-response, communications and planned giving departments to review your various fall strategies, and make sure you are aligned.
- Update your colleagues with a presentation on your donors and what your challenges will be in the fall.
- Read a book that will help you communicate better.
- Find 1-2 donors in your portfolio that you want to pursue for a seven-figure gift over the next 24 months, and create a strategy to make it happen. Share it with your boss.
- Take a day off and do something for yourself.
- Take someone from finance out for lunch, and ask him about his job – and listen.
Now isn’t that a fun list? See how many you can cross off while you are cultivating and stewarding your donors. I promise you, your summer will be incredibly productive and rewarding, and you’ll be ready to take on your busiest time of the year by being prepared and rested.
PS – Want more ideas for making the most of your summer? Check out our Summertime Guide to Major Gift Success!