How high-tech tools and some creative thinking can turn a slow fundraising season into a regular revenue stream.
The nonprofit industry has typically relied on Fall and Spring fundraising galas for event revenue, but the last two years have left some gaps. Nonprofits are returning to big, in-person galas this spring. However, many are still searching for new revenue streams to make up lost ground and better prepare for an uncertain future.
Widen your donor net with a summer event.
Typically, summer is difficult for fundraising: Donors are on vacation, kids are out of school, and planning an event around so many schedules can seem impossible. Will your big donors still be able to attend and give?
Rather than trying to find the magic date that will work for all your important guests, aim your event at a more casual audience. Small and individual donors can become long-time donors with some luck and cultivation. A one-time gift can lead to more gifts with continued engagement.
Use a casual summer event as an opportunity to find new supporters and spread the word about your cause. Showcase what your organization does, why your mission is important, and all the great work you’ve already done.
Another great way to manage vacation schedules? Virtual events!
A summer fundraiser doesn’t have to be an outdoor activity—hold an online auction, a virtual meet-and-greet, or a remote cocktail hour where guests can attend from anywhere in the world. You can still raise money, even when your donors are on vacation!
Try out some new ideas.
The classic charity golf tournament has always been a popular choice for a summer fundraiser. Now group events that can be held outdoors are more critical to nonprofits’ fundraising efforts than ever before.
Walk-a-thons, carnivals, wine and beer festivals, luncheons and barbecues are all fun and summer-friendly formats, and hosting a few different small events throughout the summer means more of your donors can attend and give at least once.
Get creative, and brainstorm with your team what kind of event might best capture your organization’s personality, mission, and style. Every nonprofit has a unique perspective to share—so invite the public in, and show them what you do!
Open conversations with donors.
The summer is a great time to take stock of your major relationships and focus on stewardship, without facing fatigued donors and stiff competition. Open up a dialogue with your supporters about their needs and interests before the next giving season begins, then use it to shape your future messaging.
What is your nonprofit story?
Casual summer events with a broader audience can also offer insight into how your organization is selling the cause, and what can be improved upon for future fundraising revenue streams. After you’ve brought in some new potential donors, it’s time to bring the message home. What does a layperson need to know about the mission? Does your event center a specific, tangible need? Why is your organization’s work critical?
One summer event could be the beginning of a great relationship.
Follow up with first-time donors after your summer fundraiser and offer volunteer opportunities, helpful or informational content, or questionnaires to gauge interest in different cause areas. If you plan to hold multiple events during the summer, provide previous attendees incentives to continue the fun and build a powerful connection with the cause, and their enthusiasm will inspire others.
Does your organization have a unique idea for a summer fundraising event? Please let us know in the comments!