No Time For Stewardship? Think Again.

Philip Manzano • Mar 05, 2018

Stewardship is well worth the investment of time and resources it takes to pull it off (which, might we add, can be fairly minimal)! The post No time for stewardship? Think again. appeared first on Keela.

Over the past few months we’ve tried to convince you that your donor attrition (the number of donors that aren’t renewing their gifts year over year) is one of the biggest dark holes in your fundraising program. We’ve also identified for you that it’s most likely happening because you’re not communicating with them well.

We live in a world of charities that say they don’t have time for stewardship. If that’s the case, then these charities also don’t have time for:

•  A higher return on investment

•  Growing their revenue

•  Retaining their donors

•  A more fiscally responsible and stable organization.

However, there is always time for stewardship because, when it’s done well, stewardship is well worth the investment of time and resources it takes to pull it off (which, might we add, can be fairly minimal)!

Whether it’s through a personal thank you card up front or a short impact report a few months down the line, here are three simple ways you can surprise, delight and retain your donors with high-quality stewardship:

1. Make it personal. In an age of mail-merging and smart tags, just about anyone with a keyboard and a bit of decency can add their donors’ names to a mass appeal or tax-receipt. But you’re better than that, right? Up the ante by including a brief handwritten note that shows that you either know your donor (ex: Five years of giving – thanks for your continued generosity, Martin! ) or that you’ve at least noticed them (ex: Martin – it’s your first gift – welcome to the family, we’re so glad you’re here! ). References to specific gift amounts, projects donors have funded, or past interactions you have had with them are also appreciated and help you stand out in the crowd.

2. Do it now. Like now. No, like actually now. From the time a donor gives to when they hear from you (and no, an autoresponder does not count), should ideally be no longer than 72 hours. Whether it’s a quick phone call/voicemail or a short email – letting them know that a real human at your charity has seen and appreciates their generous support is a sure fire way to let them know that they matter to you. It takes about five minutes per donor and yet it yields big dividends in the long run.

3. Reiterate gratitude. It’s been said that people need to hear things at least three times before it really sinks in. The impact a donor is making in the world is no different so be sure to have a multi-channel approach for your donor stewardship to ensure they hear “thank you” multiple times from your organization before they receive another appeal. Get ‘em with a thank you card and a phone call today and then work your way towards a story-based impact report via email or a beneficiary quote on social media later. The more you wrap your donors up in love and appreciation, the more likely they are to say, “heck, yes!” when you ask them to support you again.

Stewardship doesn’t need to be complicated, but with hundreds or thousands of donors on the go at once, it’s going to take a bit of organizational prowess to ensure you’re providing personalized, mass communications/stewardship to your donor community.

More on that next month in our next post, The Legacy Approach.

Chat soon,

Janet + Leigh