How to Cultivate Donors Before the Fall Fundraising Season

How to Cultivate Donors Before the Fall Fundraising Season

As fundraisers, we tend to take the summertime as an opportunity to analyze and forecast campaign results until the end of the year. While most nonprofits are tempted to jump directly to planning major giving times like Giving Tuesday and Year-End, it’s essential to find ways to cultivate your donors right now so they are more inclined to support your organization when peak fundraising season is here. And making your donors feel appreciated is a lot simpler than you think…

Just start by saying thank you

Saying thank you lets your donors know their support matters and makes them feel special. More than anything, donors love knowing their gifts have an impact and that your organization recognizes their value.

There are a lot of ways you can say thank you throughout the summer:

  • Share your impact report through mail and by email with a thank you letter highlighting what your donors have helped accomplish in the past year
  • Share a beneficiary story that demonstrates the impact your donors’ generosity has on real people
  • Send a postcard to tell your donors you are thinking of them, featuring a beautiful photo of your work or the people you support, which wouldn’t be possible without them
  • Give them exclusive access to one of your virtual events
  • Share videos and testimonial stories on social media

Engage your audience in new, fun ways

Summer is also the perfect time to cultivate your audience by offering them interactive ways to engage with your organization:

  • Create and share a quiz about a topic related to your organization. This can make the audience realize how impactful and inspiring your mission is.
  • Invite your donors to send digital greeting cards to your beneficiaries to reinforce their connection to your mission.
  • Poll your donors – can’t decide on what final detail you want to add to your direct mail piece? Send out a quick poll to your donors asking what they prefer


For our client Inner-City Scholarship Fund, who is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, we sent a cultivation email asking the audience to test their knowledge on the help the organization has been providing to underprivileged students for the past 50 years. The quiz included five questions such as how many students receive tuitions assistance every year and how many of them graduate.

Inner-City Scholarship Fund Cultivation Quiz and Email

For our client Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (Chicago Chapter), last summer, we ran a Facebook advertising campaign that asked users to submit a friendly note of encouragement for isolated Chicago elders whose loneliness increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. This campaign generated over 500 responses—all containing messages of hope for elders to stay strong and safe. These messages were then shared with the elders as handwritten cards in their food bags.

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly

For our client Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, last summer, we sent an email asking donors to vote for their favorite photo for the cover of the calendar the nonprofit sends them annually. This poll generated over 40 responses and got donors excited to receive their gift! Asking for your audience’s opinion is always good. You can both recognize your donors’ contributions and gather insights related to what they best respond to.

Conquer Cancer

There is a plethora of summer cultivations that your organization can send and optimize over time. Don’t be afraid to use cultivations as an opportunity to run A/B tests* to learn more about your audience’s preferences and improve your response rates before the fundraising season!

If you are looking for ways to thank your supporters this summer, feel free to reach outWe are always available and ready to help you.

*Creating 2 versions of a digital asset to see which one users respond to better (Mailchimp, 2021).
Stephany Oemcke
About the author
Stephany Oemcke
Account Associate of Digital Marketing

Stephany brings years of social media and digital marketing experience to the Faircom team.

Her experience in paid search, social media engagement, and content creation in both the non-profit and for-profit markets have given her great insight into what compels donors to interact with nonprofits.

She holds a B.A. in Public Health and Business Administration from Mercyhurst University. Stephany was also captain and member of the women’s rowing team, where she captured a second-place victory at the 2017 NCAA’s.

In her free time, you can find Stephany downhill skiing, biking, or listening to podcasts!

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