Creatively Connecting With Donors When They Are Busy

School is ending, and the chaos of summer solicitation is just beginning.


What on earth do we do as fundraisers?


My little girl is graduating pre-school today, and the dad-brain in me is both proud and borderline apoplectic on how quickly she is growing up.


She is smart, and hilarious, and possibly the sassiest kid I have ever known. Kindergarten…watch out.


She’s already declared that a kid named Jet in her class is her boyfriend, and that they are getting married one day.


So, now I have to spend part of my day thinking about that.


Additionally, the activities schedule for all three of these little people we’ve created is almost unmanageable.


I’m guessing your donors, supporters and business partners are looking at their calendar and feeling the same way.


So, as a fundraiser – how are you supposed to pop into the lives and schedules of super busy humans who are distracted with their own chaotic life, in order to talk to them about your mission, impact and need of support?


It’s a great question to ask yourself as you ready your summer fundraising plans. And incredibly important to creatively come up with ways to communicate without making those you are trying to build relationships with, more stressed than they already are.


Lucky for you, I’ve got some hot tips on what you can do to maintain that momentum you have at your nonprofit…even if your donors have tornado-like little humans who are involved in far too many things over the summer months!


Here are 4 ways to connect over the next few months!


1. Try a Random Text Message of Gratitude


In trainings and speaking events, I use a fun activity I developed years ago at a “Gratitude” event we put on. It involved that little super-computer in your pocket that was originally created for things OTHER than Candy Crush or TikTok.


In fact, these “phones” were designed to communicate with audio and written texts – and EVERYONE has one. And EVERYONE uses one.


Try carving out time once a week (Fridays are a great day to show appreciation I’ve been told! 😉) and send random notes of how grateful you are for your donor’s support, constant cheerleading, or their leadership within your organization. Don’t as for a dang thing. The point is not to solicit, but rather keep your organization – and especially YOU as a person – in mind even though they have an overflowing plate of things going on.


Your ability to be genuine in your appreciation will instantly be recognized, but might not be interacted with. And that’s ok! But more than likely you’ll get a quick note back, acknowledging or recognizing your outreach. That simple and not-at-all nefarious communication is simple, quick and super effective in showing you care more about the relationship than their check-book.


2. It’s OK to Leave Voicemails


If you’re like me, I EXEPCT my calls to go to voicemail and I’m always a bit taken aback by someone I reach out to by phone to answer. I mean, who has the time to answer the phone nowadays!?


But the reluctance to leave a voicemail when reaching out to donors is a mystery to me. It’s a very easy and quick way to add a touchpoint to your donor relationship process…and it is nearly as effective as chatting too!


Now, there is a protocol to observe when leaving voicemails though! Be quick! Get to the Point! Be Joyful! And Smile When Talking!


Think about the last voicemail message you received, started listening to, and got bored quickly, and just deleted.


Don’t me that voicemail.


This is a simple way to keep top of mind and get through a LOT of donors or contacts in a short period of time – but that doesn’t mean you have to sound robotic or bored!


3. Plan Lunch & Learn Events – Picnic Style!


Most parents have some sort of sporting event or activity they are dragging the family to every night. And that means the afternoons are for scrambling to get everything done at once. Or, they are trying to organize stuff to do with kids in between activities and food is usually the part that gets lost in the shuffle of moving small humans from one place to another.


So if you’re up for a bit of a creative challenge – but one that can involve a solution to a donor’s chaotic life – try hosting lunch & learns at a park shelter, community area or spot that accommodates the mom or dad who is slipping slowly into the depths of madness on all things planning around their children’s life.


A quick snack in the park while you talk about your mission and impact gets you a bit of Vitamin D, some fresh air, and a reason to get our from behind that desk of yours to see those who support you face to face!


Have a BYOB party! (That’s Bring Your Own Blankets not booze!) Provide a few kids games, or ice cream treats and all of a sudden you get in front of those you really want to chat with…and save them the headache of dressing up & finding a sitter!



4. Go Where THEY Are – with Permission & an Invite of Course


Here in the Midwest – summer is for lake time. Everyone either has a lake place, knows someone who has a lake place, or finds a lake place to visit – and that means they try to leave before Friday to “beat traffic.”


Spoiler alert. No one beats traffic because everyone tries to beat traffic, thus making traffic horrible whenever you try to get out of town during the summer.


However, since they are there, and their friends who probably support you (or who might be interested in supporting you) are there, it might be beneficial and convenient to go to them, rather wait for their schedule to open up during the time they are in or near the office.


This isn’t for EVERYONE, and really should be used as a tactic for your most ardent supporters and superfans of your organization, but if done strategically, you could end up in front of some very wonderful people who might just ask questions like, “tell me more about what you do” or “I’d love to learn more” in passing.


Inviting yourself might be a little rude – but offering to visit might spark a genuine invite to join them where they are comfortable, relaxed and open to talk about all the awesome things you have going on.


Regardless of how you approach your donor touchpoints over the summer, know that it is CRITICAL to keep your mission in front of those that care about you.


It might be summer vacation for your kiddos, but your mission and impact for those you serve can’t afford to take a few months off.


Get creative and fun on how you approach your relationship building – and use the summer months to your advantage!


Now…anyone have some extra time to help haul my kids to multiple activities as the same time on the same day?


You (and I!) got this!


-Patrick