Let’s be real. Summertime is the perfect time to decompress from a busy season and get some rest and recuperation. But it is also the best time to look ahead and develop a plan and schedule for your marketing and fundraising strategies for next year, starting this fall.

Forward planning does not have to be a complex process. Much of the roadmap has already been plotted by your previous activities – what has been working versus what needs to be improved or scratched from your agenda.

When going through the evaluation process, we urge you to be realistic when looking at your data. If you have been using the latest digital communication strategies, the numbers don’t lie. Are you sending your solicitation emails at the right time based on open rates? Do you need to adjust the frequency of your social media posts to generate a better response to programs and events? Are you oversaturating your audience in your overall email correspondence?

To start the planning process, use a simple spread sheet and set it up by month. Under each month, you can use the following structure to map out all activities with launch dates, using the following outline:

PROGRAMS (If applicable) – If you are an arts organization or place of worship, for example, you should have all of your concerts, classes and other activities on the calendar,

SPECIAL EVENTS – Include fundraising events of all sizes and outreach activities as well,

SOLICITATIONS – List your annual campaign launch, year-end push and any special appeals you might plan in between.

PUBLICATIONS – From a quarterly or monthly e-newsletter to your annual report, all of your communications pieces should be on the timeline with a list of tentative topics.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS – We recommend you break out a sub-calendar of social posts and develop a more detailed daily schedule,

SPECIAL DATES – Holidays, personal tributes to leaders and donors and awareness days within your particular sector should be mapped out with a list of strategies you can use to harness their impact.

Once you determine tentative launch dates for events and solicitations, you can back in the start dates for planning so you give yourself enough time to maximize their effectiveness. For example, for a major fundraiser, start that process at least nine months ahead. A solicitation? Allocate at least six months.

The best part of having a comprehensive plan is you will gain the ability to “sell” your organization on a more comprehensive, cumulative basis to the types of corporate partners and individual donors who are looking for sustained exposure over time.

That’s just a quick overview on taking time during the summer months to do some planning between pina coladas.

If you’re looking for the right “mix” of strategies to help you better see and plan for the big picture, contact Andy Rose at andy@nonprofitteam.com or (561) 945-9356.