Phew! There’s nothing like that feeling after a successful season is complete. Time to kick back, right?
Go ahead and take a breather for a minute—you deserve it!—but just because your organization has ended its busy season does not mean it’s time to shut down until next season starts. There’s a lot that can be done in your organizational “off-season” to set you up for success next season. Here are some ways you can use this downtime to your organization’s advantage.
Just because you’re out of season does not mean you should be out of mind. Now that you aren’t up to your eyebrows in your organization’s busy season, there’s space to be more strategic with your communications and promotions. It’s important to keep people excited and informed about what your organization does, even when you aren’t actively recruiting, running, or fundraising. The fanbase you build now will pay off later.
Maintain an active and excited social media presence, send regular (but not incessant) email communications to your list, and more to keep your current audience engaged and motivated for your cause, whatever it might be.
With a whole season of activity behind you, now is a great time to jot down several success stories to report back to your donors. What were the fruits of their investment? If you’re able, interview participants to gather testimonials and share them in your marketing efforts. Tuck the best ones away for next year’s fundraiser to help motivate your donors to give.
You have a pile of people who have supported your organization in the past. Now is the time to be intentional about thanking them for their work, inviting them to lunch, and showing them what you’ve done with their generous gifts. Your organization depends on the generosity of others; show them your appreciation by nurturing relationships with them.
When you’re in the middle of your busiest season, it’s hard to lift your head out of the weeds and address the bigger picture. “We’ll take care of that in the off-season,” we say, waving our hand at that one thing that is important but not urgent. Well guess what? It’s time!
It’s important for all organizations to take a step back at least annually to assess the health of our operations. Are the right people in the right seats on the bus? Where are the kinks in our system? How can we make our operations run more smoothly for our team and for the people we serve? Maybe upon taking a look at your organization you discover that everything is running smoothly. Great! Then take the opportunity to dream about the future and set goals as you prepare for the next season.
You know what you needed to be successful this last season, and you have fresh knowledge of where you came up short. Now is the time to put together a budget for next season. This will give you a clear view of how much you need to raise and what you need to do to meet your goals. Putting together a budget also provides you with the confidence and information you need to approach donors for specific needs, whether it’s uniforms, equipment, facilities, or operational expenses.
Take a 40,000 foot view of your organization’s funding sources. Just because you’ve always done a certain activity doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to spend your time and resources. What is the return on your investment of time and energy? Are there better ways to raise money without adding yet another fundraiser into your programming?
No matter what time of year your organization is active, you should always take the opportunity to ask your donor list for year-end gifts. Many organizations make their charitable gift decisions during the last quarter of the calendar year. If your organization is mostly active during the spring or summer months, you don’t want to be missing from another organization’s giving considerations just because you aren’t in session in the winter.
After you’ve evaluated your operations and dreamed big dreams for the future, you’re going to need funding to help make it happen. If last season’s fundraiser didn’t give you the results you were hoping for, it might be time to select a different fundraising company or an entirely new approach.
Your organization’s off-season is the best time to research fundraising companies, compare their strategies, and select the best option to meet your fundraising goals. A solid fundraising strategy will help you step into your busy season with confidence and space to focus on the day-to-day tasks that make your organization flourish.
When you’re ready to prepare for your next fundraiser, have a member of your organization reach out to Stoller Fundraising. We can help you incorporate simple, profitable fundraisers into the development of your organization.