Getting Ready for Fall Fundraising – in July

Getting Ready for Fall Fundraising – in July


13 June 2023


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


July is just a few short weeks away – Yikes! – Are you ready? What’s on your list for July? Annual Meetings? Summer field trips? Donor visits?

Here’s what I’m thinking about.


Plan the Fall Appeal – If you follow some of the general advice in this blog, you may have a draft of your Fall Appeal letter already written or at least blocked out. The draft will use what you learned from last year’s appeal as well as your current year’s communications theme. There is no reason not to pull that letter out this summer and create several versions to meet the needs of your segmented donor file. Then PRINT THEM ALL IN JULY, or at least get everything ready for your mailhouse to print. Use a September or October date, fold and stuff them, seal them and put stamps on. Then put them in a box on a shelf with the drop date written on the outside. One less chore for the fall!

– and if you do use a mailhouse …


Get Ready to Talk to the Mailhouse – July is a good time to go have an initial meeting with your mailhouse. Take a copy of the letter you have prepared to show (and weigh!) and talk to them about list segmentation, timing, and copy deadlines. Have you made some of these mistakes? (I have.)

  • Having the weight of an insert push the total weight just over the allowable limit (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).
  • Having the special envelope your designer came up with measure out larger in some dimension than the maximum allowed by the post office (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).
  • Not printing addresses with barcodes on the envelopes (could have saved money on postage with printed barcodes).
  • Printing the return address, in attractive script!, on the back side of the envelope (if the return address is not printed on the front side of the envelope, undeliverable mail will not be returned).
  • Printing the indicia, return address, “to” address, or bar code too high, low, small, or large (results in extra postage or even rejected mail).


– getting out ahead of this “Fall” work will make time for major gift prospects visits …


Make appointments to go visit your biggest friends. Plan NOW to start right after Labor Day. Take a board member with you! Or better yet, assign the task to board members who are willing to go meet with donors – no ask involved! In the meetings, share the organizational vision for the next few years, listen for the points they are most interested in, and tell a story related to one of their interests. Tell them how important their on-going support is. And ask them to keep you in their philanthropic plans again this fall. The “appeal” letter is a follow-up to that visit, and asks them to carry on their support for another year with a gift of a specific amount.


Get Ready for Fall Foundation Deadlines – Board members can play an important role in supporting the business of writing foundation proposals. July is a great time to organize that support, and it all starts with systematically finding out who they know.

Print a list of Foundation board members and key grant staff. Circulate the list at a board meeting. Ask each board member to scan the list and indicate whether they know the individuals personally or whether they know someone else who does. Don’t expect your board members to know many people. They won’t. But DO capture the connections you find in your database and keep it current.


Evaluate the Fundraising Year So Far – Given what you know right now, where will you be at year’s end? Go ahead – stick your neck out and take a WAG (wild-ass guess). Will you make your fundraising goals? For this to work, you must have budgeted well in the first place. You must have a fundraising goal that is specifically tied to your program goals, and it is clearly broken down by audience and activity.

Then, the forecasting question is simply this: Given what I know right now about what foundations have committed and what grant requests are still out there, and what I know right now about membership, major gift requests, corporate fundraising, and so on, can I still project getting to my fundraising goal for the year? July is really the first time that you have enough information to attempt this exercise. Obviously, the closer you get to December, the better your WAG will be. But do it nonetheless. Forewarned is forearmed. If trying to forecast now means that you avoid a head-on collision in December and January, your effort will be worthwhile.


What are YOU doing this summer that will get you started on your Fall fundraising work?



Cheers, and have a great week!




PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.


Photo by Bonnie Moreland courtesy



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  • Susan Graham
    Posted at 16:53h, 13 June

    What recommendations do you have for actual summer stewardship plans?

  • Carol Abrahamzon
    Posted at 10:42h, 13 June

    David Allen, what would we do without you keeping us on our toes when we are buried up to our nose?!