How to Re-engage With Your Donors After the Summer Break

02 Sep 2016

Fall is ripe with opportunities to fundraise and after the dog-days of summer, the perfect time to re-engage with your supporters. Start shifting their thoughts to donations now to set the stage for end-of-year appeals. When is the last time you reached out to your donor base? Have you been quiet over the summer months? Take the start of a new season as inspiration to send an email series(?) to your database. This is an important time of the year to get back in touch with donors and potential donors. Remember, in most organizations, a large percentage of fundraising dollars from individuals comes in during the last two to two and a half months of the year.

Fall = DIY Fundraising

This season is one of gathering. We gather around a bonfire to support the local football team, we gather around a table to celebrate holidays, we tailgate, we cheer – Fall has a unique way of bringing us together with friends and families. This provides a perfect time to get the creative juices flowing and develop some DIY fundraising ideas.

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or Individual Fundraising Events (IFE) are programs that allow an organization’s supporters to fundraise as they choose instead of exclusively driving support through traditional staff-driven events. Fundraising activities are only as limited as someone’s imagination. The Humane Society of the United States offers ideas around birthdays and other individual events while St. Baldrick’s uses the Fall back-to-school season to host the Battle of the Bald.

These Fall activities are great springboards to create a unique IFE that will benefit your favorite organization:

  • Halloween Pumpkin Carving or Costume Contest
  • Neighborhood Scavenger hunt
  • Block Party/Tailgate
  • Pie Eating Contest
  • Chili Cook-off
  • Back to School Pancake Breakfast
  • Dance-a-Thon

The list is endless! As an organization – all you have to do is reach out and support the imagination of your supporters this season. Encourage them to tweak the next family invite to include a donation to their favorite cause.

Season of Thanks

In the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, people tend to overlook the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a great time of year to engage your supporters with a simple Thank You.

The Sierra Club delivered a great Thank You email in 2015 – a personal note from the Executive Director that started, “I’m about to sit down with my family but it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if I didn’t take a minute? Moment? to recognize what an amazing year it’s been.”  The video in the header was a short, less than 60 seconds, thank you message highlighting the accomplishments and the victories the supporters had achieved with the Sierra Club.

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What was missing from this video? There was no hard ask or call to action. This was a genuine thank you on a day that we all stop to give thanks.  Why is this an important message in your Fall fundraising campaign? In the example from Sierra Club, they have just highlighted, via the video, the success the organization has achieved through their supporters.

They are saying thank you and showing the difference their supporters made in one year. This is important because starting in December you will likely be asking for monetary donations. People need to know their dollars make a difference. This feel-good message, with no ask, is a personal acknowledgment that each donor made a difference.

Setting the Stage for End-of-Year

End-of-year appeals: they are a necessary and important part of an annual fundraising plan. And you should not wait until Giving Tuesday to communicate for the first time with your supporters! If you have been encouraging your audience to include DIY/IFE fundraising in their Fall activities, you have thanked them and shared how they made a difference in the last year, you are now in the best position to go in for the hard ask with your digital end-of-year plan.

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Fall into fundraising this year; embrace the Fall season and use it as a reset for your organization’s communication efforts that might have taken a summer break. Work your database, engage supporters and encourage them to increase your reach with DIY/IFE events. Take the time to recognize and thank your donors in November. It will go a long way with end-of-year appeals and fundraising. Get started now to build to a successful close of 2016!