You’ve probably noticed that as the weather heats up, donations to your institution start slowing down—but cultivating a positive donor experience is not a seasonal endeavor. Whether this is due to the fact that school’s out for summer or generally relaxed holiday vibes, it’s normal to feel stressed about your cash flow during the off-months of July and August. Rather than simply accepting the status quo, you can use these quieter months to plan fundraising campaigns for the new year, trial and test new technologies, reevaluate your fundraising strategies and even generate some summer income—all while improving your donor experience.
For all of the above, fundraising tools can help. So, read on to discover 5 reasons you should be adding new fundraising technologies to your tech stack in the summer months.
Reason 1: Don’t let summer drag your donor experience down
Your donors and supporters may not be as active in summer as they are the rest of the year, but that’s no reason for you to take your foot off the gas. The last thing you want is to get back to work after a lazy summer and feel like you’re never going to be able to make up for the lost time.
There are actually several things you can do, with the help of fundraising tools, to make the summer months count—the quality of your donor experience will thank you:
- Hold a summertime fundraising event – While not traditionally the time for events, not all of your donors are away in the summer and a fun BBQ, boat trip or carnival can be a great way to keep them and their family members entertained while supporting a worthy cause. You could also consider holding an online fundraising event, such as a peer-to-peer fundraising drive, auction or online raffle. A fundraising tool like Advance from Gravyty will help you manage the day as well as easily add multi-media and gamification elements to increase excitement.
- Reach out to donors without requesting donations – Regular contact with alumni, donors and potential donors is the best way to build long-term, meaningful relationships. But no supporter of your school wants to be contacted only when you want to request a donation. If you’re not actively fundraising over the summer, you can still reach out to your community to thank them for their previous support, keep them informed about upcoming projects, see how they’re doing or share some inspiring impact stories from the year to ramp up interest and engagement. As personal calls and emails can take up a lot of staff time, it makes sense to work with a tool like Gratavid from Gravyty, which can assist you in creating and sharing impactful and personalized outreach videos. Personalized outreach is a critical part of a positive donor experience.
- Refine your fundraising strategy and goals – Fundraising can be a fine art that involves identifying exactly who to contact, when to contact them and what to say/ ask for. To be ready for a successful year ahead, you can use the summer to dip into your database and identify donors that you want to engage with in the new term.
Raise from Gravyty can be a great help for this. Raise is an AI-based fundraising tool that sits on your CRM and accesses donor information (such as giving preferences, previous donation amount and affiliations within your organization) to help make strategic fundraising decisions. It will help you strategize your fundraising by identifying groups of donors to contact in the new year and helping you refine your personalized approach.
Reason 2: Prepare early for calendar year-end
Once the end of term rolls around and we’re getting into the slower-paced months of July and August, fundraising departments in schools and colleges can start to feel the pressure around reaching year-end fundraising goals. This is especially true if you are not on course to achieve your targets. Rather than viewing the summer months as dead time, however, you can take the opportunity of this less busy time to figure out what still needs to be done to ensure you get to where you need to be. For example, if there are anticipated shortfalls in fundraising goals, plan campaigns for the new term, such as a recurring giving or gift-matching campaign or a peer-to-peer fundraising initiative. You may simply decide to ramp up your outreach and communications once the new term begins.
Use Raise to help you identify donors to contact and what approach would best work with them. Raise can also take the legwork out of the actual outreach itself by prompting fundraisers with appropriate actions, drafting personalized emails and keeping the CRM updated after each action taken.
Reason 3: Soft launch new technology to ensure your donor experience has direction and impact
Your tech stack is the combination of different software applications, programs and tools your organization can use to help perform necessary tasks and operate more efficiently. Designated software can often be helpful in reducing the excessive administration burdens so many educational fundraising departments face.
If you’ve identified fundraising technologies that could help you achieve your goals and improve your donor experience, the summer can be the perfect time to do a soft launch. While things are less busy, you can introduce new technologies to a select group of staff members, offer training and give them time to test-drive the new solutions without the pressure of looming deadlines or the end-of-year rush. The reduced pressure means your team will also have the time and opportunity to identify problems and work out if there is further functionality needed.
Reason 4: Ideal timing for staff bandwidth and workload
Your fundraising staff may be enjoying the summer lull, especially when contrasted to the hectic final days of term. While allowing them to have some well-deserved breathing space is a good idea, you can also gently encourage them to use the time to plan initiatives for the fall.
If a Giving Day or peer-to-peer fundraising initiative is on the horizon, the summer months offer an ideal opportunity to explore new technologies that can make running these initiatives easier and more efficient. Advance from Gravyty, for example, is a designated platform that makes planning and executing online fundraising events that much easier. Use the platform to help with everything from planning the day itself, rallying and managing volunteers, publicizing events on social channels and through email and executing a dynamic and fun launch, complete with gamified elements such as interactive leaderboards. When using any new technology there is inevitably a learning curve. By onboarding new solutions in the summer, your staff can have a chance to get to know the functionality and experiment with it before the pressure of a live event is added to the mix.
Reason 5: It’s a good time to refocus on strategy
Successful organizations constantly examine their tools and strategies to ensure that they are using the best methods available to reach organizational goals and targets. It is important to continuously cast a critical eye over all your fundraising operations and try to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. The summer is an ideal time to engage in this type of analysis and technology can greatly assist to this end.
If you’re already using fundraising tools, they can help you collect the data you need to evaluate the success of your approaches. For example, a tool like Raise can help you see how donors have responded to the actions you have already taken. If you are not yet using fundraising technologies, summer is a good time to identify tasks and actions where technology could assist you in meeting your goals and help you strategize for the coming year.
Optimize your donor experience while the sun shines!
Just because summer is usually slow-down time for educational fundraising doesn’t mean you need to slow down too. Use the summer months to evaluate your past performance, decide on your goals for the coming year and devise strategies to help you achieve them. Fundraising technologies can help your department work more efficiently in the coming year, so use the quieter summer months to test-drive new tools and technologies and get ready for a productive and successful new term.
Check out some powerful fundraising tools you can onboard this summer.