Summer Lovin’ . . . On Your Donors!

Julie Edwards
May 12, 2021 · 3 min read
Summer Lovin’ . . . On Your Donors!

Ahhhh. The sun is shining brighter and longer. The temps are warming up. The skies are blue and the leaves are green. 

It’s summer.

And with summer comes vacation. 

And even if you are not taking a physical vacation this year, I think we can all admit we tend to take a mental vacation during the warmer months. Maybe we don’t work quite as hard. Maybe we kick off a little early on Friday to enjoy those summer weekends. There are no galas to plan, no holiday campaigns to oversee. The stress eases.

But before your mind drifts off to sandy beaches and drinks with umbrellas, a word to the wise.

Donor love gets no vacation.

Donor love is a year-round, long-haul, in-it-to-win-it play.

In fact, I see summer as the PERFECT time to spread a little extra donor love. Thanking for the sake of thanking. Sending an unexpected, joy-evoking surprise. Pre-prep for year-end.

But, Juuuuulie, I’m tired, you say. My creativity is tapped out. I have a summer-fried brain.

It’s ok, boo. I got you and I’m here to help with some clever, cost-effective ideas to make you stand out and sizzle like sunshine on asphalt. So cop a seat in front of a fan with a cool libation and read on!


1) Take a picture

Remember the good old days when you had to wait two weeks to see your selfies? The anticipation? How you couldn’t wait to open the package of prints? Yes, there is something magically nostalgic about photography and the ability to hold a tangible memory. 

Why not evoke this same nostalgic feeling in your donors by sending them a photograph related to your mission? A cute puppy. A smiling child. A beautiful piece of art. Something to create a smile.

My favorite place to order photos is which offers cool retro prints (think Polaroid) for around $.50 each. Even better, you can add a short message at the bottom of the print if you wish. Like, maybe, “Thank you for being ____________” (fill in the blank).

Postcard example. Your text here

2) Paint a picture

Painted rocks have become a nationwide trend meant to promote positivity and kindness. The concept is to paint small rocks with inspirational words or messages and leave them anonymously for others to find and brighten their day.

You can adapt this trend for your organization for donors. Buy a bag of 3-4 inch landscape rocks, some inexpensive acrylic paints, and brushes, and get your creative juices flowing!

But who will paint these rocks, Julie, you ask? What about:

  • If your organization has a summer camp, make it a creative activity for the children attending 

  • Your creative students!

  • At the start of the next board meeting, ask board members to paint a rock

  • Ask volunteers to drop by the office while volunteering and paint a rock

  • Make it a team effort . . . order pizza and ask staff to paint rocks over lunch or on their break

Of course, due to their weight, this donor gift might be easiest to deliver in person but that makes the gift even more special! Place the rock in a small craft box or brown paper lunch bag with a note such as  “This rock was painted by our (summer campers, team, volunteers, etc.) with loving care to thank you for your support!” and drop it in your donor’s mailboxes or on their front porch.

PS, If you think this idea seems childish, take a look at the rock in the photo. A homeless shelter delivered it to me 4 years ago after I made a donation. The rock STILL sits on my desk. :)

Painted rock be the light

Love the painting idea but not ready to jump on the painted rock trend? Another idea is picture frames, which can be found for $1/frame at Michaels. Have your youth, staff, or volunteers paint frames, add pictures of those served, and then share them with your donors.

3) Make a moving picture

Videos are hot, have been hot, and show no trend of cooling off this summer! So why not take advantage of the beautiful weather to shoot some quick, personal videos outside and send them to your donors?

Think creatively. . . Humane society or children’s organization? Take a video of the dogs or kids playing outside in the sunshine! Visual or performing arts organization? Shoot a snippet of your summer show! Educational organization? Take a video of your campus in full bloom! 

Of course, you also will want to include a message to the donor at the beginning and/or end of your video like “Hi! Hope you are having an amazing summer! We wanted to take a quick moment to show you what our organization is up to this month thanks to supporters like you!”

The process is even easier if you use a platform like Gratavid which allows your organization to film short videos that can be delivered right to a donor’s inbox. This warm, personal touch can make a huge impact on a donor's perception of your organization because it makes you stand out from the crowd and allows you to provide the donor a heartfelt, customized acknowledgment.

Of course, if you are feeling ambitious, why not go all in and have a day of thanks?

Everyone is familiar with giving day, but why not find a random day (or week!) this summer and dedicate it to thank donors.

There's a special satisfaction that comes with thanking donors without the pressure of an ask. It feels good to give something back - even if it's just for one day.

And don’t just give thanks, but make it a day of thankfulness. Share all the things you are thankful for, especially those made possible by your donors. And incorporate the ideas above into the day such as taking painted rocks to your local major donors, sending videos to your donors farther away, mailing photos to others.

So make a splash this summer with your donors by raising the donor love bar with some or all of these low-key, low-cost creative touches that are sure to create a smile and make your organization shine as bright as the summer sun!

Julie Edwards
Founder @ J. Edwards Consulting
Noted by NPO experts as a proven fundraising superstar, Julie Edwards boasts a demonstrated track record of increasing revenue, leading high performance teams, and motivating large groups of people to affect positive change. With 25+ years of marketing communications experience, and more than a decade of nonprofit development and leadership experience, she now shares her expertise with clients through her consulting business, J. Edwards Consulting.
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