I recently had an enlightening conversation with two smart, ambitious high school graduates. They were ready to take on the world. Both had a positive attitude towards planning and fulfilling future goals.  One of the things we discussed was the transition from high school to college. When I asked the about their pre-college summer plans, the graduates’ response was they were going to have a “chill summer”. 

    I was intrigued by their ability to have such a relaxed attitude about the transition from high school to college. When they told me about how they planned to have down time, relax and just enjoy the summer, it dawned on me: this is something that many of us do not do well.  We don’t plan down time in the transitions from season to season in our lives. We do not take time to “just chill”.

    It got me thinking about the seasons of fundraising.

    How do we connect to our donors during down time? How do we keep volunteers engaged during down time? How do we fill our own buckets? 

    Connect with Donors

    While giving is a year-round activity, is there a down time in your year? During the summer months we can focus on stewardship with our donors. How can you connect your donors’ stories to your mission?

    • Recall a specific thing you learned about the donor and plan your stewardship activities to specifically acknowledge the individual’s personal likes.
    • Take the time to visit donors and having meaningful conversations.
    • Learn about their interests, passion and what they are doing for the summer.
    • Invite the donors to your program.

    Keep Volunteers Engaged

    When we are not actively fundraising, do we forget about our volunteers who help make our work possible? Your volunteers need to feel valued.

    • Plan activities that will help volunteers be inspired by your organization’s cause.
    • Provide opportunities for volunteers to connect with you, staff and their peers; creating a sense of community and demonstrating they are making a difference.
    • Schedule time to steward your relationships with your volunteers: social gatherings, training events and opportunities to see the programs in action.
    • Invite volunteers to tour your programs and give them opportunities to be involved so they stay engaged.

    Refill Your Bucket

    Are you filling your own bucket, so you are prepared to transition into the next phase of fundraising? Emotional and mental health is very important. When our buckets are “full” we feel secure, confident and better able to help others.

    • Give someone a compliment, seek to find bright spots and lift up accomplishments.
    • Look for opportunities to help others.
    • Doing something you enjoy to promote gratitude in your heart. This summer I plan to spend more time with family and friends, boost my exercise routine with yoga practice and commit to reading two books. Think about the things you enjoy doing; is it yoga, reading, vacation or meditation? Whatever you do make sure you are taking time out to incorporate a “chill summer”.


    We can all benefit from a “chill summer”. In fundraising, just as in all facets of our life we need to take time to regroup, recharge and renew. It is very important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, our volunteers, staff and our donors. I have shared my plans to “chill” this summer. I would like to hear how this blog has inspired you. Please post to share what you will be doing this summer to “just chill.”

    Posted by Robin Jordan on Jul. 8, 2019
    Robin Jordan

    Written by Robin Jordan

    Robin joined Donor By Design Group after a career of more than 30 years with the YMCA. Robin’s passion and expertise in fundraising and volunteer, board and staff development has formed the cornerstone of her career. Robin coaches nonprofit staff, volunteers and leadership to increase annual fundraising, build relationships with donors and strengthen their ability to have a positive impact on those they serve.

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