The Two Things You Must Do Before Summer Vacation

by Barbara Barron | Posted June 8th, 2022 | Subscribe to this newsletter

It’s early June. If you are reading this even several days after I published it, thank you! I know how insanely packed early June is for anyone in a school. Final projects. Awards ceremonies. The last push for participation in the Annual Fund. Alumni gatherings. And the grandmommy of them all – graduation. (Or “stepping up”, or whatever you call your particular celebration.)

It’s madness. Happy, tearful, utterly #worthit. But still. A lot.

In the coming days or weeks of this fiscal year, there’s so much more to do. But regardless of how busy you are, I hope you will remember the two most important things you really must do.

#1: Say thank you.

To your donors. Make the time to call or send a note to the people who have done so much, given so generously, and have been so responsive to your program this year. To your best volunteers who put in untold hours. (For free!) To the Board member who had your back all year or just at that tough meeting. To your Head – for the opportunities, the support, and the feedback to help you continue to grow in your role and in your value to the organization.

To your colleagues, especially those in your office. If you haven’t given credit and thanks for the good work and all those long hours your team put in, do so now. We talk about “finishing strong.” I love to think and write about that. Here’s another opportunity to do that. As you close the books on this year, both literally and figuratively, take a moment to recognize and thank those people who have helped create whatever success your school achieved, and helped cushion the blow of every disappointment or frustration you endured.

It’s not just a good thing to do. It’s a really smart thing to do. Within weeks, you’re going to be back asking for gifts, help, volunteers, ideas, and support of every kind. We know that donors overwhelmingly tell us that if we do just a couple of things, they are more than 85% likely to give again and give more:

  • Thank them, right way, and personally.
  • Tell them what you did with their gift. Report on the impact it had – before you ask again.

Hopefully, we’re all already doing that with our donors. You are likely to experience a far more receptive donor on the other end of the line in October if you do that now. But the same holds for the people in your office or in other offices in the school on whom we rely for information, access, and help. Genuinely tell them how much you appreciate their collaboration for this year, and specifically how it helped, before you ask them for help next year.

So that’s the first. Gratitude. A big dose.

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#2: Take care of you.

You need to take time away this summer. There’s no benefit to anyone if you don’t do that. You need it. No one runs on empty. You’ll be a better leader, a more creative thought partner, and a more supportive and effective manager if you get away, shift gears, and gain perspective.

As you a plan for that time and to ensure it is as valuable to you as possible, I suggest you ask yourself these questions:

                    What restores you?

                    What or who inspires you?

                    What refreshes your spirit?

                    What relaxes you?

                    What energizes you?

                    What says “fun” to you?

Ideally, you’ll have quick answers to some. Others may take a minute. But knowing what gives you what you need will help you plan a more fulfilling break. Is there an author you’ve been interested in reading more from? Order the book today. Is there a friend or former colleague you’ve been too busy to reconnect with (now that we are so busy out in the world?) Set up a coffee. Are you itching to travel – assuming it is safe to do so? Book it. Don’t wait. Take time to set up for yourself a summer of opportunities. You and everyone you work with will benefit.

Me? I’m taking time off from publishing articles until August. I’m busy with several important client projects and want to enjoy time with our friends, kids, and grandchildren. There’s a stack of books loaded onto my Kindle, a couple of happy hour dates set with former colleagues, lunches scheduled with dear friends, and two trips to meet the children of friends who were born during the pandemic.

Whatever fills your list, I wish you a restful, fun, and energizing summer. And again, as always, thank you for all you are doing.

Be well,

Barbara Barron

[email protected] // @BBAdvancement

My name is Barbara Barron, and I’m writing this blog to share advice on a profession that I adore.

I’ve been working in the field of Independent School Advancement for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve had the pleasure of creating and implementing successful fundraising plans and programs for so many incredible schools. I’ve had the privilege of seeing real growth at The Carey School, Marin Primary & Middle School, Woodside Priory, Crystal Springs, Presidio Knolls, Sage Ridge, and San Diego French American, and others. (Maybe we’ve met!)

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a struggling school start to thrive. My hope is that you’re here to make a positive change as well. I hope my advice can be a part of that change.

Shoot me an e-mail if you want to swap tips, or share your voice here.

Let’s do this, together.