Summertime is no good. At all. Not for work at least, or anything resembling productive output or that involves a deadline. No truly productive work gets done though we go through the motions at the office. Vacations, bocce, hanging around, sunflowers and boat days on the lake interfere with the good work or our lives.
As Chief Development Officer, I never enjoyed summer fundraising. No one is truly interested until the change in the weather. Staff vacations suck up whole months and volunteers aren’t engaged, particularly when there are young kids at home. Who wants to think about concerts and plays during pool season?
And so while I love the summer and lying on a beach as much as the next fellow, I am grateful for the return of fall and with it the universal shift back to good business. America collectively returns to focus after Labor Day—as a nation we put the sandals away and turn our attention back to employment, our studies, volunteer commitments and generally leave the sillies beyond until next year.
Q4 is upon us once again and therefore GO time for our organization’s fundraising activity to kick to the next level. For many arts organizations fall is the time when the season starts, concerts resume and board members have returned from their 60 day round the world yacht trips and start thinking about local activities and commitments once again.
As fundraisers, it is our time to shine – when the majority of activity needs to happen to achieve the magical 65% of goal by December 31. Our staff is back to work, our art is on the stage, and our volunteers are (or aught to be) reengaged and reenergized ready for the challenging work ahead. It is impossible to maintain momentum forevermore and so fall is the time to get back into gear with focused growth plans.
Push your volunteers to ask early and often, with focused energy in October and November. You will lose the magical Mo by December 1, as folks turn to the holidays and consumption of sugar cookies. Whatever your volunteer fundraising committee looks like, push an aggressive calendar of activity in the first two months of Q4, with an expectation of in-person solicitation before Thanksgiving.
December is too late for anything but cleanup. Well, cleanup and the lighting of candles and sincere prayer for your key $50,000 gift that arrives every December 30 from the elderly couple who no one has ever met and without which you cannot possibly make goal.
Your volunteers are tanned, rested and engaged to help, at least for the moment. Task them with good prospects, the right case, and urgency and lead them to success, spreading praise and victory as you go.
Are you ready?