It’s summer: here are the tasks to prioritize in philanthropy and communications

Espace idées   •   June 13 2022

In addition to taking a well-deserved vacation, summer is often a good time to accomplish projects in philanthropy and communications that we tend to postpone. Here are 8 tasks to consider for the summer season that will not only save you valuable time in the months that follow, but will also help you structure your priorities. You don't have to do them all, but working on a single priority can make a big difference.

*Note that this article is inspired by a webinar that we offered in June 2021 which presented 11 tasks to prioritize during summer. For Espace idées members, it’s still possible to view the webinar in the member section.

1. Develop a fund development plan and a communications plan

1.1 Fund development plan

The fund development plan presents the philanthropic context in which the organization operates and evaluates the current fundraising program. It also allows you to define the most appropriate fundraising methods, objectives and strategies for your organization for the next three years. This plan should be updated on an annual basis.

Espace idées members have access to a template for a fund development plan in the member section of the website, as well as a document presenting different fundraising methods.


1.2 Communications plan

The communications plan defines the actions to be taken in communication to support fundraising and other strategies. It also determines the approach, style and content of communications according to the target audience and presents the techniques, media and supports (communications tools) best suited to achieve the objectives. The communications plan therefore makes it possible to create different messages within a coherent whole.

Once again, a template is available in the member section of the Espace idées website.

2. Develop an impact report

This document intended for your donors demonstrates how donations were used and the resulting impact in the community using concrete examples. To do this, you can use stories and testimonials from service users, volunteers, stakeholders, donors, etc. For a more interesting report, present quantitative (statistics) and qualitative (descriptive) information.

We discussed this topic during the June 2022 virtual meeting for members. The recording is available in the member section of our website.

3. Research Potential Funders and Submit Funding Requests

Take advantage of the summer period to research different databases of potential funders (government, foundations, businesses), your own database and list of donors, your Chamber of Commerce website and other business-related sites in your region, the websites and annual reports of organizations with a mission similar to yours, etc. Before sending proposals, don’t forget to validate the funders’ interests in philanthropy, investment priorities and selection criteria, and also consider the links with your organization (through the mission and values, target clientele, interests, team, etc.).

4. Develop a Case for Support

The case for support is a document that allows you to develop key messages that will be used to promote your cause and solicit potential donors. The argument presents the organization, what it has accomplished, its vision and its impact in the community. It explains your needs, what donations are used for and presents to donors the different ways to get involved and thus make a difference. The case for support will be very useful to send funding requests because your information will already be grouped together in a single document.

5. Revise Thank You Letters

Your thank you letters should be reviewed and renewed annually. To do so, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does the content of the message look like in the letter?
  • Is it sufficiently personalized?
  • Is this a recurring donation?
  • What is the type of donation and what is the amount?
  • Is it possible to insert a short testimonial?
  • Who signs the letter?
  • Don’t forget to consider the differences between generations.

6. Create a Social Media Calendar

To create your calendar, brainstorm with your team to come up with ideas for posts. Use an Excel calendar, for example, for planning purposes. You can also use your annual planning for inspiration (activities, programs and services, news, announcements, important dates, articles, testimonials, photos, videos, statistics, infographics, information from your sector, etc.).

7. Clean Your Database (and other folders)

For your database, generate reports to structure the cleaning more efficiently. Then conduct research to fill in missing information, remove duplicates and make the necessary corrections. For paper and electronic files, we all get into the habit of accumulating various documents that we end up never using. Discard whatever is unnecessary and archive important paper documents from the last 2-3 years. Establish a system that works for you.

8. Evaluate Fundraising Activities and Programs

When evaluating activities and programs, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have the objectives been achieved (financial and other)?
  • Did the program or activity go as planned?
  • Has the desired number of participants or donors been reached?
  • What are the elements to improve?
  • What comments were received?
  • What is the return on investment (taking into consideration that this element is not the only, nor the most important, evaluation criteria)?

Everyone involved in organizing the activity or delivering the program should provide feedback and participate in the evaluation. Determine in advance the elements to be evaluated, for example, based on the questions presented above. Immediately brainstorm possible solutions.

A document is available in the member section of our website to help you conduct such an exercise.

Have a great summer! And don’t forget to prioritize the tasks according to the needs of your organization.

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