Although nearly one third of all giving occurs in December and 12% of all giving happening in the last three days of the year, summer can still be a great time for fundraising.
The sun is shining and the days are longer. With all the colors emerging and the weather improving, people are spending much more time outdoors and are generally in a better mood. This makes summer a great time to fundraise.
Here is what you should have in mind when you’re fundraising this summer:
1. Timeline is Key
Although the warm weather provides plenty opportunities for organizing a wide variety of events, especially when compared to wintertime, it’s still important to be mindful of the timeline.
Check the school timelines. When do the kids go on holidays? When do families usually travel? Are there any other big events organized around the same time?
Once you have a better, even if broad, understanding of the timeline, plan your summer fundraising campaign accordingly.
2. Think Outdoors
It is important to run online campaigns throughout the year – including during summer. However, summer has one advantage over other times of the year. It is the best possible time for organizing outdoors events!
Ice cream eating competitions, giant water slides, swim-a-thons, picnics, beach bonfires… the list is endless. Use the abundance of sunshine to run all the events that you can’t organize in winter (naturally, the weather during the seasons depends very much on where you live).
3. Don’t Forget About Volunteers
Many nonprofit forget about or underestimate the power of volunteers. Volunteers contribute time instead of money, whereas nonprofit professionals frequently focus only on raising money.
Although a lot of volunteers end up volunteering for an organization after they have donated to it first, a big percentage of individuals (close to 50%) volunteer first and donate next.
Furthermore, the group Independent Sector tracked the value of volunteer work. This year, it averaged $24.69 per hour, up more than 2 percent from last year.
To sum up, although nonprofits sometimes feel uncomfortable asking their volunteers for donations, nonprofit professionals should work to overcome this mindset. There is a strong link between donating and volunteering, therefore volunteers should not be forgotten.
4. Get Creative
Although car washes and dog walks are amazing fundraising ideas and can help your nonprofit reach your fundraising goals, summer is the best time to experiment and get creative with your fundraising.
What about an outdoor yoga or exercise class? Planting trees? Camping trips? The more you can tap into the needs and interests of your audience, the better. If you have the capacity to carry out research, even if it’s a brief survey, do. This will allow you to carry out campaigns and events that appeal to your audience – enabling you to raise more money.
5. Incorporate Fun
You should never make donating or giving look like a chore. Whichever activities or events you choose to organize, fun should be incorporated.
A light-hearted, fun event is a great way to engage your community and show them that they can combine the activities they love with the causes they care about.
6. Consider Your Audience
When planning your summer fundraising, consider your audience. Are you a faith-based nonprofit? Are you a foundation with high-profile celebrities as major donors? Are you a school?
Before investing resources in planning fundraising activities, consider your audience and which kind of initiatives are they most likely to partake in.
7. Reap the Power of Online Fundraising
Even though summer is the best time for ‘outdoor’ fundraising, it goes without saying that online fundraising will propel your fundraising efforts forward.
Have a detailed and written out online fundraising plan which specifies your audience, your goals, your tactics. Make sure to have an effective and smooth donation page to which you can direct your audience.
Finally, ensure your donation processing system enables your donors to have a great donation experience. For this, check out the Donorbox donation software. Donorbox is a powerful donation tool that is very simple and fast to set up. Its simple and effective checkout is optimized for recurring donations. It only takes a couple of minutes for you to start accepting donation payments.
8. Set an Ambitious Target
Since fundraising tends to slow down in summer, many nonprofits are tempted to set lower targets for their summer fundraising campaigns.
However, setting more ambitious targets can help propel your activities and your fundraising team forward. It can help to think that “the sky’s the limit” when it comes to fundraising.
Of course, this ambitious target should be grounded in some reality. Look over your results over the past 5 years first.
9. Build a Team
People make things happen. It is your team that will work tirelessly to make your fundraising goals happen. For this, developing your nonprofit team should not be ignored. Use your team’s unique strengths. For example, David Atchley points out that there are numerous roles in a fundraising strategy, and it is important to pair these roles with individuals in your organization with the relative strengths. These roles include:
- Engagers: Individuals who will interact, talk and nurture relationships.
- Connectors: Individuals who can leverage networks and make valuable introductions.
- Askers: Individuals who understand the skills and timing necessary to ask for the donation.
- Stewards: Individuals who communicate with and nurture ongoing donors and promote the relationships.
Furthermore, appreciate and thank your employees the same way you appreciate and thank your volunteers and donors. Work on your employees feeling inspired and motivated, and they will reciprocate by working hard and making your fundraising goals happen.
10. Follow Up and Build a Community
It’s essential to follow up after running a fundraising campaign. Your supporters just helped you achieve success. Start by:
- Thanking them – Send personalized letters or personalized “thank you” emails. Thank you emails are easily segmented, so you can tailor your message.
- Share campaign results – How much did you manage to raise? Highlight the impact of the fundraising campaign and the donor’s impact.
Following that, work on creating a community by interacting frequently with your supporters. You want to nurture a community of donors that will become frequent or recurring donors and stay with your organization for a very long time, not just the summer.
Here are our Top 8 Summer Fundraising Ideas:
Outdoor Exercise Class
Summer is the ideal time to get outside and get moving. Many people are motivated to get fit during spring and summer.
Organize an outdoor fitness class (running, yoga, etc.) or a fitness bootcamp. Set a fundraising goal, promote the event on social media, to local sports and fitness clubs and organizations, and distribute flyers. Recruit a volunteer to lead the class(es) or, alternatively, hire a sports/fitness instructor to whom you will give a percentage of the donations.
Make sure the instructor has the necessary skills and/or certification to lead the classes, especially if the classes will be physically challenging.
Alongside wanting to exercise more, people tend to want to eat healthier in the summer. Going to outside markets is one of favorite summer pastimes.
You can either organize a farmer’s market yourself, or you can purchase a booth at a popular local farmer’s market and promote your organization, cause, or a specific fundraising campaign.
Sell raffle tickets, distribute materials, and collect donations as you interact with your supporters. This is also an excellent opportunity to meet your supporters in person.
Watermelon Eating Contest
A healthier alternative to an ice-cream eating contest, this summer fundraiser is relatively easy to put together.
Watermelons are refreshing and affordable in many countries. A way to cut down on expenses is to ask a local grocery store if they want to sponsor the event by donating the watermelons or by providing them at a discount.
A very small prize (like a ribbon and a gift card) should be awarded at the end.
Bird House Building Contest
There are many different ways in which you can organize this fun and family-friendly spring and summer fundraising event.
You can organize a woodwork workshop where every individual/team would pay to enter. The audience could then vote on the bird house they like the most by the $1 = 1 vote principle.
If you want to make the voting system more online-friendly, you could have each participant set up a peer-to-peer fundraising page and secure votes by securing donations.
Finally, you could also build the birdhouses with a couple of dedicated volunteers and then auction them off online or at an event.
This is not just a good fundraising idea for an environmental nonprofit. Since people spend more time outside during the summer months, they tend to leave behind more litter.
Organizing a beach/grounds clean-up is a perfect opportunity to raise money and do something good for the environment.
You can mobilize volunteers or “core participants” to do rounds in your local neighborhood and community, asking for people to pledge suitable amounts for every quarter mile of beach that you manage to clean up. Donors can also pledge for the time spent rather than distance covered or for “pounds/kilos” of trash collected.
A beach/grounds clean-up can generate a lot of publicity for your nonprofit, so make sure you invest in promoting your event.
Summer Cocktail Party
Nonprofit organizations large and small benefit from asking their supporters to party for a purpose.
Organizing a cocktail party fundraiser builds awareness and raises money at the same time, and summer is the best time to organize a cocktail party. Make sure you announce the event well in advance, so your supporters can fit it into their summer plans.
Atmosphere matters when organizing a cocktail party, so amp up the mood with centerpieces dedicated to your cause, flowers and more. Attention to detail ties the entire event together and makes it one that guests will want to return to year after year.
If possible, bring in celebrities to your event (depending on the size and reach of your organization).
Hiking and Scavenger Hunt
Another family-friendly and summer-friendly fundraiser, combining hiking with a scavenger hunt is a great way to get kids and parents together and exploring the outdoors. Most kids have a natural desire to explore, which a scavenger hunt perfectly accommodates.
Naturally, with an activity like this, safety and supervision are of utmost importance. Split up the adults in the party, and assign each one to a small group of kids.
The hiking could be all-day long or parents and children could stay overnight – which will increase the participation fee. The scavenger hunt could be ‘items-based’ or ‘experiences-based’ – where teams could collect items (e.g. specific plants or rocks) or collect experiences (e.g. climb a tree).
This fundraising idea requires a bit more thought, but it has a lot of fundraising and community-building potential.
A tournament will work for all sorts of sports but particularly things like soccer, golf, baseball, basketball, volleyball, etc.
Tournaments also make particularly great sports fundraising ideas for little leagues, schools, and kids’ teams.
Sports tournaments are fun, work with most age groups, and are relatively easy to organize. All you need is a sports field, a referee, some basic sports equipment, and a promotion to match it.
With these fundraising principles and ideas in mind, this summer could be your organization’s best yet!
Principles don’t work without activities to bring them to life, and activities won’t be successful if you don’t follow basic fundraising principles.
What works for one organization doesn’t necessarily work for another, so before deploying any of these ideas, carefully consider your audience.
Don’t forget that there is no reason why you can’t make your summer fundraising as successful as your winter one.
What are your favorite ways to fundraise in the summer? Let us know in the comments below. For more fundraising resources, check out Donorbox Nonprofit Blog.
Ilma Ibrisevic is a writer and a content marketer at Donorbox, a powerful, state of the art fundraising software for nonprofits. She spends her days writing for the Donorbox Nonprofit blog and starting her own business. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.