For major gift fundraisers, traditionally the month of August was always a time to relax a bit. Not anymore! While you do need to take some time to rest, Richard and I believe it’s one of the more crucial months for your work.
Why? Because while many of your donors are taking vacation time, it presents an opportunity for you to evaluate where you are and prepare for the last quarter of the year. In other words, August is a good time to get your head clear about where you are headed.
Here is a checklist to use in August so you are ready for the busiest time of your year:
Evaluate your portfolio. Where are you so far this year, relative to your revenue goals? Which donors are behind in their giving? Who can be asked for another gift in the fall? What donors are in jeopardy of not making their goals?
Start setting up meetings for the fall. You most likely will need to make a number of solicitations in the fall. Start setting up those meetings now. Get them on the calendar well in advance so you can prepare your “ask” strategy based on when you are meeting with them.
Make sure that you are ready to send program-impact reports to your donors in September by working with program.
Know what you are going to solicit for this fall. Go over your portfolio and have a conviction about what you will be asking your donors to support – in line with their passions and interests.
Meet and communicate with program. What projects are you intending to ask your donors to fund? Make sure you are in sync with your program/services staff. Set up the expectation that you will need information, budgets and stories to make those solicitations.
Set up a meeting with your manager. Review the donors that are in jeopardy and proactively discuss why. Either re-set revenue expectations or change your strategy on how you can start turning it around.
Evaluate your strategic plan. Now is the time to review your October to December strategic plan and change it if you need to. Plans are not sacred. They are meant to be changed if something is not working or you have better ideas.
Thank donors. August is a great time to send thank you notes and postcards because a donor isn’t expecting it. Everything should be handwritten.
Take one Friday off. Seriously, you work hard. Take a Friday off in August and get away from the office. You’ll be a lot more productive on Monday.
There is your checklist. (Share it!) This is why August is so important. If you can complete these tasks, you’ll have a clear path coming into your busiest giving season. Put this on your desk and check them off one by one!
PS — This is just a small taste of what we’ve got in our upcoming MGA course, “Making Your Year-End Goals.” Check it out!