Despite the keen anticipation of three straight months of warm weather and freedom from the classroom, summertime is often the time of year that nonprofit activity slows down. With kids out of school, families take summer vacations to make the most of fun in the sun. That usually means donors, volunteers and staff organizers aren’t handling the same volume of fundraising tasks that keep them so busy throughout the rest of the year.
Nonprofits provide necessary social programs, particularly for school-age children and their families, so the absence of assistance in the summer season marks the start of an increased need. Over the Summer months, The Atlanta Community Food Bank observes two critical occurrences: kids aren’t in school to access daily meal programs, and nonprofits that could typically step in can be in short supply of volunteers and donors who are away for the summer. In 2018 alone, America’s summer food service programs provided 2.7 million meals to kids every day of the peak month of July.
Particularly for the Food Bank, which services a 29-county area through 700 partner agencies, summer hunger presents many challenges and difficulties in the vein of food insecurity for children and their families. In the 2019 school year, the Georgia Department of Education reported that over half of all school-age children statewide were enrolled to receive reduced-price or free meals. With numbers like these, it becomes clear that if organizations haven’t planned ahead, summer hunger can create a scenario in which funds and manpower for imperative assistance programs over these months are severely lacking. Fortunately, with a bit of forethought and insight on your part, you can take a page from the Food Bank and put the fun back in fundraising while watching your nonprofit’s summer participation and engagement increase.
Summer Fundraising Ideas
Take advantage of sunnier weather and longer days
With outdoor events, you can use the warm days and extra daylight to give you the edge you need to attract potential contributors looking for fun things to do with the family. Outdoor events serve as the perfect background for getting people excited and getting them involved, as well as increasing the likelihood that they’ll recruit family and friends to participate. The more the merrier, as they say. Bonus tip: make your events kid-friendly to engage the whole family while promoting the idea that helping a worthy cause can be fun.
Ideas for fun outdoor activities include movies in the park, a summer concert series, a community yard sale, or neighborhood cookouts. Everyone will appreciate the opportunity to have fun outside, and these are the types of events where you can expect multiple streams of incoming revenue from ticket/entry donations, corporate sponsors and food sales. Additionally, with the knowledge that many nonprofits will be experiencing the summer slowdown, your nonprofit efforts will stand out thanks to decreased competition for donor attention.
Peer to peer fundraising
Peer to peer fundraising can help circumvent the absence of volunteer and donor aid that impacts the increased community needs in the summer. Current supporters can tap their network and bring a significant increase in new donors to your organization, raising more funds with less tax on your already-reduced summer resources. Peer to peer events often include charity runs or walk-a-thons that are participant-friendly but can also apply to online fundraising campaigns, which are easily shared on social media for further exposure. Supporters can use their personal experiences with the nonprofit to tell a story that engages potential supporters, or asks that friends and family donate to their favorite nonprofit for their birthday or in lieu of holiday gift exchanges.
Summer service projects
Summer is an entire season of the year it’s assumed that all kids enjoy while feeling carefree with their family and friends. However, for many school-age children facing food insecurity, this is not the case. Recent statistics suggest as many as 37 million Americans struggle with hunger, and reliance on school meal programs that provide essential nutrition and nourishment means that when school is out of session, there’s a major food gap to fill. Parents are faced with the task of feeding their families without this support, and families don’t need to struggle in the summer to provide essential meals. Summer service projects can be a very effective way to tackle summer hunger head on.
Consider the efforts of the Food Bank, which hosts an annual Great Summer Dish volunteer initiative to ensure that children don’t go hungry during the summer months. Through a partnership with The Soulfull Project, the Food Bank dishes out much needed resources and support for local children. The Great Summer Dish day of service takes place each June and gathers members of the media to accomplish a goal of filling 500+ backpacks with nutritious food products for children in need. A summer service project like the Great Summer Dish engages a wide range of participants, generates action and brings attention to your cause. Families don’t have to fight summer hunger alone.
While in the summer months nonprofits often face an increased need in conjunction with reduced resources, with a little thoughtfulness and creativity, it doesn’t have to stop the stream of contributions. Using these tips and examples from the Atlanta Community Food Bank as a jumping off point as well as thinking outside the box will keep momentum flowing through the summer season and pay dividends towards your nonprofit’s summer success.
Heather is the Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing the marketing, communications, public affairs, education and outreach work of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Before the Food Bank, Heather served at The Krystal Company® as their Director of Marketing in charge of Calendar, Planning & Promotions managing relationships aimed at increasing guest engagement, enhancing customer perception and driving traffic and sales. She also previously led their Brand Marketing & Research department. Heather has also held many leadership roles including serving as the Director of Brand Marketing for Aaron’s Inc., Director of Strategic Brand Marketing in the Healthcare Industry and she was a Team Advertising/Marketing lead for The BellSouth® Corporation. Heather is a graduate of Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and also completed the Culinary Scholar program at the School of Hospitality Administration. She earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus on marketing from Brenau University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the Innovation and Leadership program at Antioch University. Heather is a native of Atlanta and lives in Dunwoody with her husband, twins and furry child.