Swimming Pool

11 Refreshing Summer Fundraising Ideas

BONUS: Get 99 refreshing summer fundraising ideas with our free PDF!  Download our resource to print and share with your colleagues.


Let’s be honest, asking people for money is difficult.  Really, really difficult.

What’s even worse?  Asking grumpy people for money.

Donors are much more receptive to asks when they are in good moods. Whodathunkit?

So take advantage of the happiest season of the year — summer!

Summer is a great time to engage with donors. The sun is shining, the weather is good, and daylight lasts forever.

It is a season that beckons people outside, so heed the call.

Use these suggestions to capitalize on the summer season and get your community outside and donating!


A block party is a one-stop shop for summer fun.  The endless summer nights provide the perfect backdrop for a community gathering that benefits your cause!

Block Parties are what you make them so the vibe and atmosphere will be up to you.

Consider organizing some extra fundraising events to incorporate into the block party and maximize your donations.

I would suggest getting some competition brewing with a watermelon eating contest and a cook-off.

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit, refreshing and healthy.  Donors won’t feel guilty about stuffing their faces with watermelon.


Messy enough to provide a visual badge of honor for those who compete, your contest will be a highlight of the block party.

For those who find the competitive eating world unappealing give them the option of competitive cooking.  A cook-off is a great complement to any block party.

Pick a summer classic, like apple pies, burgers, or chili, and get people cooking!

You can have party guests vote using a secret ballot or appoint a judging panel.  Just have fun with it!

Look into getting a local chef or cooking supply shop to donate cooking lessons or a gift card to the winner.

Keep the party going late into the night and let your cause reap the financial rewards.


Is a block party not cool enough for you in those hot summer months?  Make it a pool party instead.  Problem solved!

Pool parties are pretty straight forward.  Have pool?  Will party.

Just make sure you have your safety bases covered with licensed lifeguards.

Your pool party can be as extravagant as your heart desires.  Set up carnival like games near the pool.  Have a party-wide round of Marco Polo.  Sell snacks from a concessions stand.


Kids will join in for the fun of it and adults will join in for the nostalgia-fun of it.  Establish a designated fight-zone, register competitors, and sell water balloons.

You could even make it a tournament with teams competing for a coveted prize…glory!


Car washes are a fundraising standby for a reason.  They’re a great way to raise money with little event cost.

They are also an excellent opportunity to expand awareness of your organization.

Make sure your car wash has plenty of signage stating what the proceeds are going towards.  You might even want to print off some flyers or brochures to give those who participate additional info on your cause.


BBQ Hamburgers

For this event you’ll have a crew of volunteers and staff manning the grill or fryers.  Set up a method of ordering (online, via the phone, in person) and provide made-to-order food.

Your establishment can be take-out style or you can set up some outdoor seating.

Get kitschy if you go the eat-in route, and don’t forget the quintessential summer items like picnic tablecloths and funky plates.


Pick whichever of the three you think your community will be most interested and you’ll be off to the races.

Charge a small registration fee and have your participants gather sponsorships for distance walked, biked, or swam.


Find an outdoor venue, get wine donated from local shops, and invite your supporters who are 21+ to pay a minor fee to participate.

People will jump at the chance to sample wine while feeling charitable.


Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bring your higher-end events outside.  For example, you could host a garden ball at your community’s botanical gardens.


Golf Cart

Golf tournaments can be very lucrative.  Partner with a local golf course and solicit your corporate sponsors and donors to buy spots in the tournament.  Make a whole day of it!  Start with breakfast and finish with a dinner and silent auction.


Outdoor concerts are summer staples.  It doesn’t matter who the main attraction is, whether its Beyoncé or your cousin Al’s neighborhood band.

A benefit concert is all about having fun and raising money.


Reserve a venue, like a park space, for 4 or 5 separate nights.  Then pick out a movie for each reserved day that an entire family can enjoy.

Title your series, something like “June Movie Mondays,” and start rolling.

Make sure to advertise and let people know what the ticket sales are accomplishing.  You could even sell theater concessions to create an authentic movie-going experience.

For more great information, check out our list of summer camp fundraising ideas! 

Once you’ve executed a great summer fundraiser, make sure your organization is fully prepared to keep those hard earned donors.

Click here to learn more about donor retention.

And click here to learn more about donor segmentation.

Donors have more time and energy to get involved in their communities during their summers.  Cement your nonprofit’s community presence by making a big fundraising push this summer. Go forth and conquer the season!

Raise Money for Any Cause - Start Your Fundly Fundraiser

Looking For Donor Love

Nonprofit organizations and worthy causes are on a continual search for supporters—especially those who provide financial resources to further their missions. These individuals are some times called “donors.” I like to call them “investors.” These are the kinds of supporters you really want.

The way some nonprofits go about searching for these folks—those that will part with their money for the good of the cause—reminds me of a line from Johnny Lee’s song, Looking for Love. “I was looking for love in all the wrong places,” the song begins.

This search is the “anywhere and anyone” method. Like the situation described in the song, those seeking love continue to look for it where it isn’t likely to be found.

True, every once in a while, you’ll meet the right kind of person. But think of how much time is wasted reaching out to anyone—and everyone?

Principle 4 of The Eight Principles™ is Learn & Plan™. The task here is to first learn who would naturally support you and then plan how to reach them.

Look closely at the fundamental values your organization espouses and then seek to identify some of those in others – that is the first step.

It’s not unlike dating. Are we so desperate that we’ll go out with anyone—no matter how little we have in common or enjoy their company? Do we seek to get people to like us by attempting a guilt trip?

Not a good way to start any relationship.

Once you’ve got a good grip on the values match, then make your plans on reaching out to them.

Think of it—supporters that support you because they really want to, not just harangued to do so. Now that’s a sustainable fundraising idea!

Twitter: @Larry_C_Johnson

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/larryjohnsonmegrace

Web:  https://www.TheEightPrinciples.com

Email:  info@TheEightPrinciples.com

© 2015 M E Grace & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Used by Permission.


Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Monthly Giving

The 5 Steps for Starting a Monthly Donor Program

Want to have your cake and eat it too?  Start a monthly giving program.

Monthly donor programs are cash cows and cash chickens and cash horses and all the animals on Old MacDonald’s farm.

Consistent funding is key when running a successful nonprofit and monthly donors offer financial stability.

Organizations are constantly pushing their donor acquisition efforts because donor retention, even with the best laid plans, isn’t a guarantee.

A donor who willingly gives a set amount each month without your staff having to re-ask each time?  Yes, please!

The biggest challenge facing those wanting to start a program is just that, starting one.

It can feel like an overwhelming undertaking, but the fundraising benefits far outweigh any monthly donor program start-up difficulties.

There are so many more pros than cons.

Let’s look at the pros:

  • set (loosely guaranteed) funding
  • after the initial program development, it’s straightforward to maintain
  • simple to track results
  • long-term — theoretically, monthly giving never has to end

Still concerned about launch challenges?

Following the 5 steps below will let you rest assured that your monthly giving program will start strong and draw in those sought-after recurring donations.

Step One: Get the Team on Board

Establishing monthly giving is going to be a large investment of time, resources, and money.

It is crucial that you get the key stakeholders within your organization on board.

Bring your executive directors, executive board, your database manager, and your fundraisers into the discussion.  These are the people this program will affect, so they need to be part of its launch.

Gather these team members and use their input to design a launch plan (more on that in step two).

Like with any similar undertaking, you are going to want to appoint a point-person to lead the development and act as a liaison for the various team members helping with the project.

Although, it is important to have one person lead, the program’s launch will not happen unless key players within your nonprofit champion it.

Step Two: Design a Launch Plan

Prior to implementing the program, you’ll need a plan of attack.

You want to know what the campaign process is going to be like, so get a full picture, top to bottom.

First, brainstorm and decide what your campaign is going towards.  Set a clear mission so you know what kind of messaging you’ll need

Make sure the program is funding something a donor would feel compelled to contribute to.

From there, choose what the monthly giving levels will be.  This is an opportunity to be very strategic.

Most monthly donors are going to pledge anywhere from $5-$50 a month.  The aim of these programs is to gain larger sums through a piecemeal approach.

The goal of any nonprofit when soliciting donations should be accessibility for all types of donors.

Maybe a college student will join the program if she can pledge $10 a month.  Then she gets her mom involved and the mother becomes a $40 a month participant.

Curate your giving levels so that you reach the whole spectrum of supporters.  Space the levels out by tens, by fives, by whichever seems most relevant to your donor base.

Don’t forget to include a “choose your own adventure” giving option where a donor can write-in his own amount and hopefully you’ll receive some larger, $100 or $200 a month, donations.

Next, brand your program.  Donors will be inclined to join a “members-only” type club.

With an established club, you can then offer rewards to your members, maybe monthly or bi-monthly.  Just something to show gratitude while driving further sign-ups.

Finally, you’ll need to plan your communication methods.


  • The kinds of mailings you’ll be sending
  • The frequency with which you’ll be sending them
  • When to ask for donors to upgrade
  • How often you’ll ask for upgrades

Once you determine how and when you’ll be communicating, you’ll then need to produce those materials.

Step Three: Produce Corresponding Communication Materials

You know the campaign’s mission, you have giving levels set, you’ve branded the program, now you need to pull that all together in your various communications templates.

Draft your initial ask letter for direct mail and do the same for email.

Are you going to do follow-up phone calls?  It might be a good idea to write a phone script.

Don’t have the resources to do follow-up phone calls for everyone?  Pull the higher-level potential participants and have staff call only those candidates.

At this stage you’ll also want to design a monthly giving page for your website. 

Make sure that your branding matches across all platforms that you’re communicating with.  Donors will react well to message cohesion.

Step Four: Check That Your System Can Handle the Challenge

Work with your database manager and/or donation processing tool to set up a monthly giving option.

Many CRMs will help automate the monthly giving process.

Having the technology ready to support your efforts will save you significant time in the long run.

There is nothing worse than spending all this time creating a campaign to then let old or outdated systems hold you back.

Proper use of your database will also help you streamline your record keeping, save you money on administration, and even potentially offer an automated upgrade process.

Don’t let such a valuable tool work against you.  Get your database on board!

Want to use your CRM to improve more than your monthly giving?  Download our free CRM ultimate tip sheet. 

Step Five: Launch and Optimize

You’ve done the legwork, now launch your campaign and watch the donations come in.

Don’t rest on your laurels for too long.

It’s in the program follow through and maintenance that you’ll be able to establish your monthly giving club as one of the best there is.

Remember, the campaign is a living and evolving entity that will need to be adjusted as time goes by, so consider:

  • various ways to acknowledge participants — sending thank you/update letters, calling out MVP participants on social media, listing donors on the website page
  • monthly checks of who is still donating and who has left the program
  • finding new prospects to solicit
  • mentioning monthly giving across other communications platforms like in direct mail campaigns and newsletters

There is always room for improvement so don’t let a valuable program function at less than 100% of its capacity.

After Step Five, your monthly giving program should be a well-oiled machine.  Relax and eat that cake.

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

airplane wing

Are You Ready to Lead? The 11 Best Nonprofit Leadership Conferences of the Summer and Fall

Love ’em or hate ’em, conferences are part of the game.

Sometimes you may feel that a conference is pulling you or your team away from more pertinent work, but attendance can have major value.

  • Conferences are a great opportunity to expand your team’s industry knowledge.
  • The mass gathering is the perfect place to network with peers and industry thought-leaders. Never underestimate the value of a face-to-face meeting. Conferences make in-person introductions that much easier.
  • By attending and/or contributing to the conference, you’ll be able to position yourself as an industry authority.

And hey, getting out of town for a few days ain’t so bad either.

As you map out your conference schedule heading into the summer and fall seasons, plan strategically about which members of your team to send.  Typically, those you send will fall into this list:

  • Executive Directors
  • Presidents
  • Board Members
  • Major Gift Officers
  • Various C_Os (Chief Development Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, etc.)

Before you set your calendar, take a look at our list of summer and fall nonprofit leadership conferences.

Let’s take this month by month.


10th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference

National Harbor, MD from July 7-9

The 2015 Bridge Conference will focus on educating attendees on the newest fundraising trends, solutions to nonprofit marketing challenges, and methods to improve ROI.

2015 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference

Washington, D.C. from July 13-15

This conference’s aim is to help nonprofits’ marketing approach through four main topics.

  • Motivating the generations
  • Getting personal with storytelling
  • Making cause marketing work
  • Amping up integrated communications


Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) 2015 National Conference

Little Rock, AR from August 6-8

This annual event brings YNPN leaders from around the country together for chapter collaboration, knowledge sharing and expansion, and networking.

Social Media for Nonprofits Conference — Austin

Austin, TX on August 18

Designed to share practical advice and techniques for advocacy, marketing, and fundraising via social media, this conference is a part of a national series.

Social media is going to continue to grow as a method of online communication and fundraising, so it is a great idea to stay current on all of the strategies in the growing field.

Visit the website for conference dates for the other series’ cities including: San Francisco, New York City, Washington, DC, Silicon Valley, Boston, and Dallas.


10th Annual Nonprofit Management Institute

Stanford, CA from September 9-10

Celebrating 10 years, 2015’s conference will focus on the theme of building resiliency.  The theme is broken into three components: yourself, your organization, and your society.

Social Good Summit

New York, NY from September 27-28

Taking place concurrently with UN Week, the Social Good Summit will investigate the effect technology and new media have on social good movements globally.

With a forward focus, this year’s conference centers on the theme #2030 and the question,

“What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

The Communications Network Annual Conference

San Diego, CA from September 30 – October 2

The conference is an annual meeting place for communications leaders from across the social sector.


Alliance for Nonprofit Management National Conference

Portland, OR from October 6-8

This conference is run by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management which employs a research-oriented approach to help increase the success of nonprofits and similar cause-based organizations in achieving their mission goals.

It is engineered by and for nonprofit leaders, grant-makers, academics, and nonprofit capacity builders.

Embark 2015: Independent Sector’s 2015 National Conference

Miami, FL from October 27-29

Embark 2015 will be a gathering of over 1,000 thought-leaders from the nonprofit sector who want to network and learn from other forward-thinking peers.

TechNow Conference

Cranberry Township, PA on October 29

If you’re near the Pittsburgh area attend this long-running conference to gain the knowledge and connections to fully utilize the technology resources available to nonprofits.

A well-run CRM can be a lifesaver, so just imagine what other tech is out there waiting to be optimized.

BoardSource Leadership Forum (BLF) ’15

New Orleans, LA from November 9-10

The largest annual meeting of nonprofit board leaders, this gathering focuses on newest trends and best practices for nonprofit management.

Pick and choose your conference schedule based on where your organization has knowledge gaps, as well as authority.

Mix and match.  Just get out there.

Before you hit the road, make sure you’re doing everything you can do improve your fundraising and download our free checklist of nonprofit CRM best practices.

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

Discover some game-changing tips that will help your organization find nonprofit CRM software that's the perfect fit.

Choosing a Nonprofit CRM: 8 Game-Changing Tips