3 Top Tips: How Camps Should Communicate with Major Donors

When you run a summer camp, you know the majority of your funds come from the registration and attendance fees you collect during the warmer months of the year. However, more general donations from your camp’s community are another source of income for you to improve your programming and keep kids coming back year after year. 

For many summer camps, larger gifts from major donors make up an important proportion of their revenue and annual budgets. If your summer camp relies on larger gifts from donors whose families have longstanding relationships with your work, it’s crucial that you continue to develop these relationships and encourage future gifts.

When your camp communicates with major donors, you have to be even more mindful than usual. These relationships are important, and you need to cultivate them in deliberate ways. Show focus and appreciation for your major donors with conscientious research and personalized marketing. We’ve gathered the top 3 tips to help you succeed:

  1. Ways to update your email marketing.
  2. How to keep your donor database accurate.
  3. Why you should consolidate your data.

Kids attend camp because it is a fun and growth-oriented experience they can learn from, and your camp is no different. Your major donors shouldn’t forget that! Let’s get started updating your camp’s communication strategies.

1. Update your email marketing

As a leader of any organization that handles donations and donors, you have to think about your channels of communication. Email is the main way you communicate with anyone who interacts with your camp, whether they’re the parents of attendees or other community supporters who donate. 

There’s been a false, growing idea that email marketing may seem outdated or basic, but there are smart ways you can leverage it to refine your communication strategies with major donors.

Your major donors already like your camp and support your organization, so don’t focus your efforts on explaining your mission and programming. Your email marketing should be concentrated on illustrating your impact and making major donors feel appreciated. To up your summer camp’s email marketing game, it’s typically a good idea to invest in dedicated marketing tools. 

Remember, the purpose of marketing software isn’t just to help with design or make your camp newsletters more engaging.  Seek software that will actually shorten the time you need to spend on daily operations like payment reminders or thank you emails. Once you stop worrying about sending verification emails, you can focus more on your major donor communication and stewardship strategies. 

When you’re communicating with major donors, make sure to:

  • Personalize the message. Remind them that you know who they are and that they are important to you. If major donors know that you value their relationship, they’ll be more inclined to continue it. If they’re connected with your camp for a specific reason, for example, if they attended it themselves when they were younger, mention how their contribution is helping another young camper share that experience.
  • Show them what their gift has done for your camp. Illustrate their impact. Stories of campers participating in programs that have impacted their lives will help inspire donors to continue giving by showing them the difference they’ve made.
  • Give shoutouts to donors in newsletters or on your summer camp’s website. This will make them feel special and super appreciated! Turning this into a regular practice might also incentivize others to increase their support. 

CircuiTree’s guide to summer camp marketing strategies can give you more insight into these strategies and other ways your camp can communicate with its community.

Communication with donors is always fairly tricky, but communication with major donors is especially important. Scoring another large gift can tremendously help your camp (while missing out might noticeably tighten your budget). Upgrade your email marketing practices and bolster those relationships!

2. Keep your donor database accurate.

As your camp collects more and more donations from supporters across your community, think about how you’re managing your donor database. 

Your camp probably already has a CRM system— and if you don’t, you should— to help you organize and sort through all your donor data, but it’s probably time to look over it and make sure it’s accurate. Chances are your data management strategies could use an update or two.

Having an accurate and up-to-date CRM system will make it much easier for you to communicate accurately with your donors, especially major donors. For example, you don’t want to step on any toes and accidentally reference a donor’s spouse when your team learned last year that they’d been divorced! Your camp data management software should be configured to store and organize general donor information like name, age, and gender, but should also keep track of things like donation history as well.

You can even perform prospect research on your major donors and see similar metrics that might signify why they’re inclined to give larger gifts. There are tools out there that can help you track wealth data and philanthropic indicators to point to potential major donors for your summer camp.

For example, you might track a donor’s real estate ownership or business affiliations to generally determine whether or not they’d be financially able to make a larger gift. Looking at metrics like past donations to other charitable causes can also clue you into whether the donor has an affinity for giving.

Once you know what your largest donors have in common, you can screen your camp’s CRM and see if there are any other donors who share these traits. The more you know about your major donors, the more accurate and targeted your fundraising and communication strategies are going to be. If you want to learn more, check out DonorSearch’s list of major donor strategies. 

3. Consolidate your data.

Many camps and other organizations keep their communication platform completely separate from their donor database. However, if you are able to integrate these tools and make full use of the data in your CRM, it will improve the donor experience as well as make your life easier.

Look into marketing software that can integrate with your camp’s CRM system. This way when you communicate with your major donors, your marketing tools will be able to automatically draw from the data in your CRM to personalize your emails with their names and according to their last recorded interactions with your camp, for instance. You won’t have to worry too much about scheduling your messages or what is in each message’s content.

If your platforms can integrate, it’s easier to navigate your camp’s management toolkit because your data will be stored and accessed in a more centralized way. What else can tech integrations help to do for your summer camp?

  • Double the impact of your largest donors – If any of your major donors happen to work for matching gift eligible companies, their generous donation can be doubled or even tripled. Make sure to look into matching gift database search tools to include in your summer camp’s donation form. Screening your donors with prospect research tools to find their business affiliations can work as well. Then your email marketing platform can be configured to send specific matching gift information to whoever is eligible. Click here to learn more about these programs. 
  • Lessen the risk for data loss and inaccuracies – If you consolidate your data with the integration of multiple platforms, you’ll know that each process your camp runs will have the most accurate information as well as the largest database to pull from. This is important when handling major donor data. Every aspect of your camp’s operations should be able to pull from the same pool of accurate up-to-date information. 


There’s no reason for your summer camp to be working with an integrated toolkit today. Even if you already use certain tools you’re comfortable with, it may be time for an upgrade. You won’t realize how much time you’re wasting and how much inefficiency (or even data loss) you’re risking by keeping your platforms completely separate. Communicate with major donors smartly and know that their data is safe!

Every summer, kids come to your camp knowing that it’s the best part of their year. Don’t be the reason that they can’t go to school next fall and brag about their awesome time. Putting in the energy and effort into communicating with your major donors is imperative to keep your funding high and consistent. Good luck and have fun!