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Raising $1 Million May Be Easier Than You Think

How to Raise $1 Million

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To Save Money, Can You Forego Your Summer Mailings?

By Steve Hitchcock

Yes, you can certainly avoid sending mailings to your donors and prospective donors during the summer.

Especially, if your organization doesn’t pay salaries during those months, or if you’d prefer to receive fewer contributions in the fall.

But seriously, please don’t ever skip your mailings in June, July and August – even if your organization traditionally closes down for one of these months.

Don’t be fooled by the deluge of contributions you receive in those “Fabulous Four” months of November, December, January, and February. You’ll raise more money in those four months – and your year-round results will be much higher – if you take advantage of the summer season too.

Let’s look at why.

First, your best donors and prospects are likely older adults, often retirees. They have the luxury of vacationing anytime, not just in the summer when the kids are out of school. In fact, we graying boomers have learned to stick close to home during the summer. That way we can take advantage of lower travel costs and more tranquil tourist sites in the fall and spring. So we’re home and reading our mail.

Second, direct mail’s effectiveness revolves around the written word, and summer is traditionally a time when reading increases. Again, this is especially true of older adults who already enjoy reading (and who are often philanthropic as well).

Third, contributions to nonprofit organizations are made from the donor’s discretionary income – what’s left over (or, more accurately, perceived to be left over) from all the essential expenses.
By May or June, we’ve finally recovered from our holiday spending binges, those monstrous heating bills have subsided, and we may even have lower healthcare expenses. Thus your donors are likely to feel as though they have extra funds contribute.

Fourth, many other nonprofits think of themselves as charities and focus all their fundraising efforts on year-end giving. That leaves the most responsive donors with fewer opportunities to give to good causes during the summer, so your fundraising appeal faces less competition.

Fifth, there is often a compelling case to be made for contributions during the summer. Many organizations offer vital and exciting programs when the weather is warmer and more hospitable. Others conduct crucial planning and preparation activities in July and August. And almost all groups need to keep paying salaries and sustain essential services. Any of these organizational needs can be translated into an effective fundraising appeal.

That’s why a good number of organizations find the summer months a time when their mailings generate high response rates and surprisingly large gifts. It’s also a time when acquisition mailings can recruit many new donors or members.

You may choose not to request gifts during the summer, or you may be discouraged by lower results from your summer mailings. But I urge you to send some mailings (perhaps a newsletter or a cultivation mailing) to at least your best donors. And I suggest you also make at least a modest effort to acquire new donors during the summer months.

How your donors respond in the fall depends on the entire stream of communication they’ve received from you throughout the year. And if you acquire donors throughout the year (not just at year’s end), then you’ll have a larger pool of responsive donors for those all-important November and December mailings.

Perhaps, most important, by sending out mailings in the summer you’ll have additional opportunities to thank your donors for their generosity and to let them know their contributions are being put to work to produce results they care about.

 

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