Five strategies for better donor communications this summer

Maximize your communications efforts.

The fact that people are busier in the summer is not new news. However, the way that people spend the time and tools that connect them to the world during busy times continues to evolve. For fundraisers, it’s important to understand the most effective ways to communicate with donors when they’re balancing work and leisure time, and donors’ behaviors and preferences should shape how and what you communicate.

While your donor community might have unique ideals or communications preferences, there are common strategies that are proven to reach, inspire and incite action when donors’ lives get busy. Here are five strategies for your fundraising this summer.

1. Email Communications

Email is an effective donor communications channel. Use email to send out newsletters, updates and other relevant information to your supporters. In the summer months, email open rates can decrease 10-15%, so optimizing your campaigns is important.

Subject lines are key to the success of any email campaign. In fact, 47% of people open up emails based on subject lines alone. Subject lines become even more imperative when people are pressed for time, so use the following tips to be effective:

  • Keep it short and sweet. In most cases, 4-10 words are enough to convey the message without giving away too much information.
  • Use keywords that will draw people’s attention. Trigger words like “urgent,” “alert” or “breaking news” can be effective in grabbing a reader’s attention and motivating them to open the email.
  • Be specific and clear. Avoid vague or cryptic subject lines that leave people guessing what your message is about. Instead, make sure to state the main reason for sending the email in just a few words.
  • Personalize it when possible. If you’re sending an email to an individual, use their name in the subject line to grab their attention.
  • Stick to the standard format. In some cases, using a particular format can help ensure your message is read – such as “Re:,” “Fwd:” or “[Company Name].”

For busy summer months, it’s a good idea to set up automation emails that trigger based on a user’s engagement behavior. For example, set up an automated follow up email with the same contents within one or two days from the original send to recipients that didn’t open it the first time.

Data suggests that email open rates tend to be higher during the weekdays and early mornings, so nonprofits should aim to send out their emails during those time frames to maximize the chances of engagement in the summer months.

2. Social Media

Social media is another powerful tool for engaging your donors and supporters during the summer months. By posting engaging and informative content regularly, you can keep them aware of your latest developments and stories. Content to prioritize in the summer months:

  • Showcase your staff, donors and volunteers
  • Highlight your clients and illustrate your impact
  • Share updates from leadership
  • Promote funny or inspirational thoughts (on brand, of course)
  • Ask fun questions or create a short survey on platform
  • Solicit small fund-the-need or in-kind donations

Use a mix of videos, images and infographics to create visually appealing content that is easy to consume and share. On social platforms like Instagram and Facebook, leverage stories and reels to share videos, graphics and images. These are great features for users to digest simple and timely information, and engagement scores are significantly higher on these platform areas in recent years. It’s visually appealing content that will win when people are busy.

3. Host Events

Summer is a wonderful time to show gratitude to your donor community, and the warm weather and long days provide the perfect backdrop for a variety of events that foster stronger connections with donors. Whether in-person or virtual, these events not only show appreciation but also provide an opportunity to engage donors in a meaningful way.

Organizing an outdoor picnic or barbecue is an excellent way to bring donors together and create a relaxed, informal environment for networking. These types of events are perfect for families and individuals of all ages and allow for plenty of opportunities to create new relationships with donors. You can customize an event by offering activities that showcase your mission, such as a guided tour of your building or the community served. You might even demonstrate a program.

Organizations can also get creative with other fun and engaging activities for donors during the summer months. For instance, a charity walk or run event can foster an active connection with donors while raising awareness about the organization’s mission. Similarly, a game night or other family-oriented activity such as a movie night or arts and crafts event are perfect for charities where kids participate.

4. Volunteer Opportunities

Offering volunteer opportunities during the summer months can be especially beneficial, as many supporters may have more free time to get involved in meaningful ways. To effectively offer volunteer opportunities, consider creating a volunteer program that is structured and easy to follow. This should include:

  • a clear outline of the tasks
  • the time commitment
  • any necessary training or preparation information

Providing a clear and organized framework for volunteering can help to encourage more people to participate and ensure that their time is put to good use.

In addition to creating a structured volunteer program, make sure to offer a variety of different volunteering opportunities that cater to different interests and skill sets. You can include opportunities to work directly with clients, participate in fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. By offering a range of opportunities, you can reach a broader audience and engage with supporters in meaningful ways.

In the summer, find ways to include youth in volunteer activities. Youth have a higher chance of being available, and parents are interested in getting them involved in the community. Providing youth-specific activities can help drive participation and improve the overall experience for them. The engagement that youth have with your organization can create a long-term value, but it can also spark philanthropic interest from families short-term.

5. Webinars and Virtual Hangouts

In today’s digital world, there are numerous online tools that nonprofits can use to engage with donors, even when they are unable to attend events in person. Webinars and virtual hangouts are two great examples of such tools.

Webinars allow nonprofits to deliver information and updates to their donors in an interactive and engaging way. By utilizing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet, nonprofits can host live webinars where they can share their work, highlight their impact and field questions from their supporters. This provides supporters with an opportunity to ask questions, get involved and deepen their connection to the organization.

Virtual hangouts are also a great way to connect with supporters in a more casual and social setting. Platforms like Facebook or Instagram allow nonprofits to host live events where they can engage with their supporters in real time. This can include virtual Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, interviews with clients impacted by the organization’s work or even live fundraising events. By creating a sense of community and connection through virtual hangouts, nonprofits can build long-term relationships with their supporters and keep them engaged in the organization’s work.