We’re heading into summer. Living in Florida, it isn’t always a change in weather that reminds me of the changing season (it’s hotter and hotter all year). Rather, there are a couple of signs at home and at work that remind me of the turning calendar pages.
At home, it is the start of camp packing. This will be the 18th summer (in a row except for the first summer of COVID) that someone from my house heads to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania for sleepaway camp. This summer, my youngest, already a college sophomore, will be a counselor. That changes the dynamic some… but the packing list and the piles of shorts and t-shirts, bedding, and towels on the dining room table remain a harbinger of the quiet (quieter) months of summer.
In my non-profit work, it is the frenzy of fiscal year-end reporting and the questioning (it always happens) from the Board member who wants to know what the development team DOES in the quieter months of summer when we have fewer events, and so many of our individual donors have, like my privileged children, fled the heat of a South Florida summer. Summer can be a quieter fundraising season here - but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be done (or none to be seen).
Here are the things I have on my summer CDO to-do list so far… let me know what I’ve forgotten!
Review contracts. Who are the outside contractors that you have on retainer or plan to bring in this year? Even if it is not time for contract renewal, this is a good time to review expectations and commitments. Have you used all the hours/services that you included in your last consultant negotiations? Are all of your special event dates confirmed with your regular photographer?
Take your strategic plan off the shelf! Make sure that there are tactics assigned to the outcomes you want to see in the next year.
Review technology and software needs. Is this the year to make a change to your CRM? Is your database ready for a wealth screen?
Take time to sit with your staff. Have you fallen behind on regular one-on-one meetings? Were there any surprises in year-end performance reviews? Take time in the summer to listen to your staff so that you can approach the next busy season with shared expectations (and recommit to meeting weekly).
Schedule the use of PTO (and maybe even take some time off now). If your organization is anything like the ones in which I’ve spent the last 20 years, you have unused PTO. Plan to avoid burnout by making sure you schedule your time away from the office. Put your birthday or another day that’s important to you on the PTO calendar now - and then look forward to a day when you turn off notifications! Set expectations with your team that they will also plan to use their accrued time; scheduling ahead means you can have the difficult conversations about who handles year-end gift calls - and who needs to be on hand for your smaller events - now rather than in the heat of the moment.
Edit your standard acknowledgment letters. Take a deep breath and re-read the letter that every one of your donors receives. Is it time to refresh the language? Do you have a new story to share? And while you’re thinking about acknowledgments - is there someone who needs a special thank you for their support? Has routine and the busy party got in the way of making that gesture? It’s never too late!
Start planning for year-end giving. Did you know (according to nonprofit hub) that over 1/3 of annual giving comes in December? Don't wait until December to start thinking about this important outreach!
There’s a lot to pack into the summer - but just as we do for the camp packing list - going through item by item can be helpful.
What else is on your summer to-do list?