With Memorial Day weekend upon us, many of us are also thinking about summer vacations. We are also focused on fiscal year end — thinking about what we’ve accomplished and what we’d hoped to do better — while planning for the new year.

The thing I hear most frequently from those that I talk with when reflecting on the prior year likely won’t surprise you: “I need to spend more time with our greatest stakeholders.” And yes, we all do. 

Strategically managing philanthropic partnerships requires time and attention. There’s simply no shortcut for this — our most essential work.

Last month, we talked about calendar management, but one discussion isn’t enough to ensure we put enough time, care and thought into our donors and potential donors. We must continue to focus on prioritizing our most important responsibility: building relationships that lead to philanthropic generosity.

Last week, I was on a call with a wonderful fundraiser, relationship generator, and manager. She shared that she has told her team that for the next 60 days, she will be minimizing participation in 1:1 meetings and the institution’s standing meetings, and will be doing a calendar overhaul to ensure she is dedicating real time and attention to prospects and donors.

I love that she has built trust with her team (reduced meetings with exception to donor strategy and hurdles), is role modeling prioritization of our most impactful responsibilities, and is looking to move things off her plate that have created “bad habit creep.”

One of her colleagues actually said, “How lucky, you get to go on a donor vacation.”

A donor vacation! My new favorite word, concept, and habit! And I want it to become yours too!

We must never stop asking: How can each of us take things off our plates so that a donor vacation becomes a norm? Yes, this supports the essential prioritization of donor engagement. But thinking of it as a donor vacation also allows us to reset how we think about our roles and our time, providing better focus and reminding us of the joy and privilege of connecting passionate and generous community members with causes they care about.

How can you build a donor vacation into your summer? And how can you use the good habits you build during this focused activity to provide additional focus and rigor all year long?

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