Your Summer Fundraising Slump To-Do List

Almost every nonprofit organization experiences a dip in donations at some point during the year. Most see it in the summer months - when it’s known as a summer slump for nonprofits. Use this to-do list to stay in front of donors, evaluate your strategies, and get ahead of your next campaign.

8 minutes read
Your Summer Fundraising Slump To-Do List

Graphic featuring a smiling woman at a summer bake sale fundraiser and the words 'Summer Fundraising Slump To-Dos', plus the Donorbox logo.

Almost every nonprofit organization experiences a dip in donations at some point during the year. Most see it in the summer months – when it’s known as a summer slump for nonprofits – because many donors are on vacation and likely not thinking about making gifts. If you’re an organization with a significant fundraising campaign or event during the summer, you might experience this break another time. 

No matter when your seasonal fundraising slowdown happens, there are several things you can do to stay in touch with your donors, improve your fundraising strategies, and grow your organization. 

First things first, take a deep breath, give yourself a minute to relax, and take in all the hard work you’ve accomplished. Next, tackle this summer fundraising slump to-do list with renewed energy and focus.

1. Stay in Touch with Supporters

Even when you aren’t actively running a fundraising campaign or promoting an event, it’s important to keep communicating with your donors. Year-round consistency is key to retaining their support – after all, you don’t want anyone to forget about you!

Plus, staying in front of your donors is a good way to boost donations during a summer fundraising slowdown. If you remind donors about your mission, they will be more likely to give.

1.1 Say thank you

While you have a little extra time on your hands – whether during a summer fundraising slump or another time – show gratitude to your supporters for their generosity throughout the year. It means a lot more when you say thank you without an ask attached, and donors will remember how grateful you were the next time you do ask for a gift. 

1.1.1 Review your acknowledgment strategy 

First, take a look at your current acknowledgment strategy. And if you don’t have one, make one! Having a detailed acknowledgment strategy is an important part of your overall fundraising plan, so use this slowdown as a chance to evaluate the ways your organization shows gratitude. Make sure your strategy includes tactics such as handwritten notes and personal calls as well as timelines and responsibilities that show who reaches out to thank donors and when.

1.1.2 Handwritten thank you notes

What’s better than sending a thank-you email or mass-mailing a thank-you letter? A handwritten note! Donors notice when you take the time to thank them individually, and the best way to do that is by including a personal note, either on a detailed thank-you letter or in a branded thank-you card, from a prominent person in your organization or even a beneficiary.

1.1.3 Personal phone calls

You should also take this time to give your donors a call. Don’t ask them for a gift of any kind, simply share your gratitude and a quick anecdote about what their gift accomplished. Also, be sure to listen more than you talk – get to know your donors better by asking them questions, such as why they support your mission or ways they’d like to be contacted in the future. 

1.1.4 Update your donation receipt

Donation receipts are a requirement after every gift, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to steward your donors. And a summer fundraising slump is the perfect time to update them! In addition to the required fields, such as gift details, include a story from a beneficiary or add a link to a special thank you video. 

It’s easy to customize your automatic donation receipt emails with Donorbox:

1. Head to your Campaigns page in your account, then select ‘Edit Campaign’ in the fundraising campaign for which you’d like to edit the receipt.

Screenshot showing how a campaign looks in the Campaigns in-app page in a Donorbox account.

2. In the Campaign Editor, find the ‘Receipt Emails’ box under ‘Enhance Your Campaign.’ Click ‘Receipt Emails’.

3. Use the editor to change the email’s subject and content, as well as insert variables to personalize the email and share the appropriate donation details. You can also add photos, change formatting, and more. Click ‘Save’ and you’re all set!

The receipt editor where organizations can edit and customize the automatic donation receipt emails that are sent to a donor after every gift is made.

Send Customized Receipts to Your Donors!

1.2 Tell your story

Use the time during a seasonal fundraising slowdown to inspire your supporters by sharing stories about your organization and those you serve. Showing donors how their contributions make a difference in the real world will help ensure future donations (or even bring in additional gifts during this fundraising slump). 

These stories are perfect for the blog on your website for two reasons – they give potential donors a powerful way to learn about your mission and posting new content on a regular basis gives your SEO a boost.

Stories are also ideal for social media posts, especially if you have impactful videos or photos to help you tell them. People enjoy seeing inspirational content on these channels, and posts with imagery get more engagement than those without. 

You can also share these stories via a newsletter – send it in the mail if you have an older donor base, and through email to a younger audience. Sending newsletters throughout the year, including during the summer slowdown, keeps your donors informed of all the goings-on at your organization.

1.3 Share your impact

During a summer slump, also look at ways you can share the impact your organization has through numbers. While telling stories is one way to show impact in an emotional way, data is more measurable and concrete. 

A great way to make this data easier to understand is through infographics. Design simple, colorful graphs and charts to share on social media or through email that break down your most important points, such as how many dogs were adopted last year or how many meals were served. 

Data should also be shared each year in your annual report – some of these financial numbers are required while data about people helped or lives improved supports the stories you tell about your mission and beneficiaries. You can use a summer fundraising slowdown to lay out your annual report for the year, and possibly even send it out if the timing works well with the end of your organization’s fiscal year. Listen to this episode of The Nonprofit Podcast to learn more about creating great annual reports!

2. Take a Look at Your Data

Speaking of data – a fundraising slowdown is the perfect time to dive into your numbers and reports. Take a look at everything from where your budget stands for the year to donation and donor totals, as well as marketing data such as email open rates, website page views, and social media engagement. 

There are several nonprofit software tools available to help you analyze all kinds of data from various sources, including accounting software, marketing products, and more. On Donorbox, you’ll find a plethora of data about your supporters and donations – our Donor Reporting Templates will help you quickly find the most important numbers with several pre-built reports, including Donor Overview, New Donor, and LYBUNT.

Use the information you find in your data to evaluate the success of your fundraising efforts and content strategies. This will help you make needed adjustments for the remainder of the year, such as changing up your target audience, shortening your email subject lines, or adjusting the cadence of your outreach.

3. Evaluate Your Fundraising Toolbox

Your data can also help you evaluate your fundraising toolbox, including both the methods you’re using and their corresponding tools. What needs to be adjusted? Can you try something new? A summer fundraising slump is the perfect opportunity for you to test new products and tactics. 

3.1 Online giving

Is your online giving form fit for fundraising? Or are there ways you can improve it? There’s no better time than during a fundraising slowdown to make some updates! There are several donation page best practices you should follow to improve conversions and bring in more funds, including:

  1. Making your donation page easy to find 
  2. Ensuring your giving form is optimized for mobile devices
  3. Including a compelling call to action 
  4. Customizing your page to follow your brand 
  5. Providing multiple ways to give
  6. Following accessibility guidelines
  7. And more! 

Using dedicated fundraising software to build and support your giving form can help ensure you are putting out the best donation page possible. Donorbox offers giving forms and fundraising pages that are completely customizable and easy to build and with features such as recurring gift options, tribute gifts, designated funds, and much more. With Donorbox campaigns, you also receive a customizable QR code to share at events, in brochures, on advertisements, and more for easy access to your giving form.

Take a look at Upward Scholars for an example of an effective fundraising page and Donorbox giving form!

A screenshot of the Upward Scholars giving form, created using Donorbox. The primary color of the form is orange and it shows recurring giving options, pre-set donation suggestions, an option to make a gift in honor or memory of someone, and more.

3.2 Peer-to-peer

If peer-to-peer fundraising isn’t already part of your strategy, the seasonal fundraising slowdown is a good time to put together a peer-to-peer campaign that you can trial with your supporters. 

Peer-to-peer makes it possible for you to turn your supporters into advocates for your mission – they create their own fundraising pages to share with friends and family, broadening your reach and bringing in new donors. 

With Donorbox Peer-to-Peer, you can turn any fundraising campaign into a peer-to-peer campaign. Simply flip the switch in a campaign of your choice and spread the word to your donors, encouraging them to create their supporter pages. While you have extra time, build email and social media post templates supporters can use when fundraising for your campaign.

Watch this success story, featuring Maya’s Hope, to see how peer-to-peer can boost your fundraising efforts.

Try Donorbox Peer-to-Peer

3.3 Events

Take this opportunity during a fundraising slump to review your fundraising events strategy. How are they performing? Are there any new events you can try or old events you should consider phasing out? If you aren’t already hosting events, would it make sense to add them to your calendar? 

Hosting a simple summer fundraising event is a great way to get in front of your donors during the summer slump. Keep your summer events simple to avoid burning out your team or your supporters and take advantage of the warmer weather with fun outdoor activities.  

You can also use the summer slowdown to review how you are pricing and selling your fundraising event tickets. Donorbox Events makes it easy to sell tickets for and manage your next event online with an event form builder that calculates tax-deductible amounts for you. This Events tool also allows you to ask for donations on top of ticket sales, set sale deadlines and ticket quantity limits, accept 43 different currencies and more. Plus, you’ll receive a customizable QR code you can use to direct ticket buyers to your secure form.

Take a look at Power to Act’s A Call to Run for One virtual run event form to see Donorbox Events in action!

An image of the Call to RUN FOR ONE event registration form, built on Donorbox, featuring the event information section.

Sell Event Tickets on Donorbox!

3.4 Giving kiosk    

Providing donors with multiple ways to give is important, and that includes in-person giving options. But many potential donors no longer carry cash, so how do you encourage on-site donations?

The answer is with a donation kiosk! Placing a physical giving kiosk at your location or event is a great way to capture in-person donations because it enables you to easily accept credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallet payments. 

The Donorbox Live™ Kiosk Android and iOS app turns your tablet into a giving kiosk that enables you to accept cashless donations anywhere, anytime. All you have to do is download the app, connect it to an approved card reader device, add a campaign to your Donorbox account, and start fundraising! Learn more about how to get started here.

Image of Live Kiosk in action on a tablet, including three types of payment options - credit card, smartwatch, and smartphone.

Sign Up for Donorbox Live™ Kiosk

4. Get a Jump-Start 

Finally, it’s never too early to start planning for the next big thing on your calendar, whether that be a major fundraising event or your end-of-year fundraising campaign. Take advantage of extra time during your summer fundraising slowdown and tackle tasks that can (and often should) be done well in advance. 

If you’re planning an event, get a jump on booking venues, sending save the dates, reserving entertainment, and creating advertisements and marketing materials. Check out this downloadable Event Planning Checklist to help you get started!

All nonprofit organizations should plan to fundraise during the last few months of the year – in fact, unlike summer, these months include the biggest fundraising days of the year. If you start planning your year-end fundraising campaign now, you’ll have more time to get it just right. You can begin by determining your target audiences and segments, drafting your appeal letters, planning your Giving Tuesday social media strategy, and more.

Over to You 

A summer slowdown for nonprofits doesn’t have to mean a slowdown for your team – although, you should definitely take a much-deserved break! After you’re rejuvenated, use this summer fundraising slump to-do list to help you stay in front of your donors, evaluate your fundraising tools and strategies, and get ahead of planning your next events and campaigns. 

Check out Donorbox to find the state-of-the-art fundraising tools and services you need to boost donations and grow your organization. And visit the Nonprofit Blog for more tips and tricks that will help you beat the summer fundraising slump!    

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Kara has several years of experience in communications and marketing for nonprofit organizations. Her love for serving others began while fundraising for and attending mission trips. She then worked with multiple local nonprofits through various marketing agencies and volunteer opportunities before becoming a communications manager at Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis for more than four years. Kara now specializes in writing and enjoys sharing her experiences and knowledge with others on this platform.


- Masters in Business Administration: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations: Ball State University


- Senior Communications Manager at Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis
- Volunteer Marketing Team Member at DuBois Center
- Assistant Manager, Marketing & Communications at Marketicity, serving local nonprofits such as Human Support Services and St. Paul United Church of Christ, Columbia

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