Starting a Monthly Giving Program For Summer Camp

Starting a Monthly Giving Program For Summer Camp

In April of 2020 the world was ending. Remember? We were washing our groceries, didn’t know if we should wear masks or not, the world shut down. It was scary. At Stomping Ground, the camp I helped start, we were terrified. Scared of what would come and hoping to serve our families we did two big things. 

  1. Started Hometown Stomping Ground - a very successful virtual camp that we don’t run anymore mostly run by Allison Klee

  2. Started the Flying Squirrels - an awesome monthly donors club mostly started by Ray Mahar that is still going strong.

Monthly giving has become so technically easy I recommend it to most non-profit camps.

Quick Stomping Ground Stats:

Stomping Ground is a small camp with a small alumni base bringing in $35k a year, engaging alumni, cultivating larger donors, and honestly having a blast. It isn’t a ton of money, but I bet you can make more.

Here is what we did. 

1. Kick Off Event

We threw a party. Dress Code: 90s Camp Counselor. Remember this was peak shutdown time so we threw a Zoom party and, honestly, it was so fun. We invited everyone we could think of that was young-ish, 21+, and had some connection to camp, asked for donations, and had a blast. The key to this night was having a hype MC and a thoughtful closing. 

Agenda (as I remember it)

  1. Welcome - 10 minutes of clowning kinda like you see when you join our webinars or debriefs

  2. Options (this is how Stomping Ground runs camp too) - two rounds 15 minutes each

    1. Camp Kings

    2. Camp Stories

    3. Code Names

  3. Embers - 10 minutes

    1. Laura, co-founder/executive director, told an impact story and thanked everyone for coming. She might have let everyone share something. I can’t totally remember. That time is sorta a blur. 

About 30 people showed up, drank a few drinks, and had a good time. We raised just over $1,000. 

2. Follow Up

After this event, Ray called everyone that came and thanked them. He also asked for feedback about the idea of a young donors monthly giving club. Told them a little of what we were thinking, asked them what they thought, and gauged their interest.

3. Soft Launch

After talking with all these folks, Ray emailed them individually to ask if they wanted to join. This way when we went public we knew it was worth it to make all the materials, video, etc. 

4. Public Launch

With an initial cohort of about 15 people already in we ran a small public campaign to get donors. Emailed alumni staff, posted on socials, wrote blogs, asked the new members to ask their friends, etc.

5. On-Going?

Now, Stomping Ground occasionally pushes for new monthly donors throughout the year, includes an ask in post-camp emails to caregivers, and mostly hasn’t pushed too hard since. 

What do monthly donors get?

They are promised 3 things. 

  • Invitation to the annual Flying Squirrel Retreat Weekend at the camp property in Saratoga Springs (Date to be announced!)

  • Two exclusive Zoom hangouts a year playing games, sharing reflections, and connecting with group members

  • Optional quarterly meetings to discuss the growth and progress of camp and ways you can help

On top of that they get a touch point from camp every month. Ray plotted this out so each month they would get something like...

  1. Text from Ray giving an update or just checking in

  2. A postcard saying thank you

  3. A video from a cabin at camp thanking them

  4. A t-shirt

  5. A note from Laura

The idea is mostly low or no-cost items that let them know they are valued. 

For most camps, you have much much larger alumni bases to draw from and this is an easy way to get those folks back engaged with camp and make money doing it.

Last shameless plug: The best way to learn about monthly giving is to become a monthly donor. Stomping Ground is a great place to learn. Consider joining here. You get to learn and help send kids to camp! JOIN NOW

Jack Schott (1)

Jack Schott

Co-Founder, TSCS
Co-Founder, Camp Stomping Ground

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