I’ve worked at two seasonal nonprofits. Something about the ebb and flow of an organization with a relatively short public season intrigues me. Of course, there are unique challenges for seasonal organizations, but I’ve found myself reflecting on how that seasonality can be used to benefit your operations and your relationships with donors.
It’s unlikely that all your operations cease when your season draws to a close. Your visitors and attendees probably don’t think about this, though. Give them a glimpse of what goes on during that time. Including a behind-the-scenes look at your operations in your newsletter is an effective way to help your supporters understand and appreciate what it takes to keep the organization going.
Use the off-season time to re-evaluate your systems and workflows. Did everything work smoothly, or are your systems holding you back? Taking the time to evaluate annually is a valuable exercise, whether you make the conscious decision to keep things as they are or decide to implement a new process.
Front-load as many tasks as possible so they’re off your plate during the busy season. You might plan your newsletter content in advance, and maybe even draft some of it, so you have a plan to follow when the pace picks up. Brainstorm photos you’d love to be able to include in future communications, and make a shot list so your staff can be sure to capture those photos during your next season. Think of all the things you attend to in-season, and ask yourself which of those could be dealt with at a different time of year.
Don’t go dormant. Your to-do list is evidence that operations don’t grind to a halt at the end of your season. But to your supporters, if you’re out of sight you’re probably out of mind. Make sure you communicate with your supporters at least a few times during the off-season. The quiet period also opens up time that can be used for one-on-one interactions with donors via meeting or phone.
Finally, regardless of your season, do a year-end-appeal. Your organization may be most active in the spring or summer, but donors generally aren’t most active during those times. Most charitable giving happens in the last quarter of the calendar year, so don’t miss out on that opportunity to raise essential funds for your seasonal nonprofit.
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