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  • Writer's pictureDebra A. Gill

Summertime Philanthropy

Don’t kick the can down the road … pick it up and run with it!

It’s here, the summer hiatus. The months when it is challenging not only to motivate ourselves to make essential calls, but it is also tricky to chase down donors between camping trips, boat outings, and plans for fun in the sun.

Living in the northwest, we know that summer is short and making meaningful connections between Memorial Day and Labor Day - even for those who don’t have school aged children - can be a challenge. My suggestion is to run with it and take advantage of the unique opportunities that go hand-in-hand with the season.

Check the concert schedules – Outdoor music is prevalent no matter where you live these days. If a donor has a favorite type of music, get some tickets, and make a day/night out of it. Or perhaps a Shakespearean theatre performance or movie under the stars. It doesn’t really matter what it is if it is something the donor will enjoy. This is especially true for those who may not have local family members or extensive social groups with whom to enjoy such outings.

Connect with your board – Summer is the opportune time to meet one-on-one with board members. These meetings are insightful and informing for you and the board member who likely has thoughts and questions that are difficult to share in a group (especially virtual) setting. During one of these conversations, I found out that a loyal board member’s son owned a private island and he had never thought to mention it. Who knew?

Pack a picnic – What better opportunity to make an impression than by putting together a tasty basket of lunch items and meeting your donor/s in a park near their home or office for some fresh air and stimulating conversation? In fact, invite the extended family and get to know the other generations of decision makers.

Send a postcard – Everyone loves receiving postcards. Whether you are traveling or staycationing, drop an eye-catching personal note in the mail to your priority donors wishing them a happy summer and letting them know you’ll be reaching out to schedule a meet up after Labor Day.

Take a hike – Donor meetings don’t have to be traditional. Why not mix it up and take advantage of the great outdoors? Discussion topics while conquering a favorite hiking or walking trail can include strategic priorities. In fact, the conversation may flow better in a relaxed outdoor setting with few interruptions.

Wheel into action – Are any of your patrons wheelchair-bound or no longer able to drive? Summer is the ideal season to offer to get them out in the sunshine for a stroll. They will be grateful for the company, and you will probably learn all kinds of things that you didn’t know including their favorite flowers or childhood memories.

These are just a few of many suggestions as the list of favorite summer activities for most people is lengthy. Take some time during a quick team huddle to brainstorm the best ideas for your constituents. It is essential to remain authentic and considerate with these invitations. The main goal is to avoid a 3-month hiatus which leads to a jam-packed fall and awkward scheduling issues as the season of giving approaches. Get outdoors and get with your supporters, you’ll be glad you did!

Alliance Philanthropy’s philosophy is to inspire staff, volunteers, and board members for all types of not-for-profit organizations to raise funds enthusiastically and passionately - at maximum levels - in support of their missions.

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