The Swing into Summer Slump
It is spring in most places and we begin to look at our end of school year, or fiscal year depending on your organizational structure. Just down the road from those activities is the dreaded – "SUMMER SLUMP", (of giving). It is a time when donors take a break from their work and volunteer activities and look to personal relaxation and family activities.
So how do we deal with the drop in donations and donor activity within our organizations?
In a word – planning.
- First, you must plan for the dip in giving. If you allow someone in your organization to take your annual goals for donations and divide by 12 for even income throughout the year, you will look really bad in June, July, and August. You must create an income curve that follows the true giving based on people, not numbers.
- Prepare for the summer months, making sure your giving opportunities are appropriate for your donor situations. Do you have appeals going out in April, May, or June? Remember to present opportunities for donors to give when you have the best odds of them taking the time to respond. If you have a special event planned before summer, make sure you fill the event as best you can. Once you get to May, donors are thinking about school graduations, summer camps, and vacation.
- Consider your communication with Major Donors. Getting an appointment with a major donor during the summer is nearly impossible. Understand this about your relationships and communicate this to them. Invite them to give now as they will be taking a vacation and not thinking about the needs of the people you serve.
- Trim your Impulse donor strategies during the summer. If you continue with your development strategies during the summer (as some organizations must) make sure you are not wasting money. Do not mail to low response segments. Keep your strategies focused only on those relationships that show a high propensity to give during the summer months. Cut expenses.
- Depend on your Monthly Partners. Your faithful friends will be consistent through the summer. Let them know how much you appreciate and need their faithful support.
- Use the summer time for fall planning. Get ready. Your fall is the critical time for donors to give. Plan each month for your increasing stewardship and development activities. Lay out your calendar. Make projections. Train your team. Update your case for support. Be ready.
- Use the summer time for writing projects. If you are updating or writing proposals for foundations, this is a good time to find focused and uninterrupted days. Make the most of these blocks of time.
- Make a final push – Prevent Summer Slump strategy. Let EVERYONE know that Summer Slump is coming. Let major donors, monthly, and impulse (direct mail, special events) donors know that you are preparing for THEIR lack of support during the summer months. (I am not saying to use guilt.) Give them a goal for May and June giving. Share how the programs need support all summer. Keep them focused on the mission, NOT the budget.
- It's only April, but start planning NOW. These strategies will not be as effective if you wait until June to plan. Then you be playing catch-up. Get ready now. Discuss the realities of summer slump with your development team and organizational leaders. Show leadership!
The summer slump is a reality for every non-profit including churches. Being prepared is the key to making it through with the least amount of anxiety and pressure.
Blessings to you in your planning and I hope some things I have written will prove to be helpful to you.
Dr. John R. Frank, CFRE, CCNL