In my childhood, when I left the house to play with a friend, my mom would always say to me, “Remember to say please and thank you!” Pretty good advice, don’t you agree?
As we raise money for our nonprofit organizations, we do a good job of saying please support us but do we always do a good job of saying thank you? It is far more likely that an existing donor will give you another gift than a non-donor will start giving! That is why stewarding your existing donors is a critical part of the fundraising process! Stewardship of your donors is important to enhance your relationship with them over time!
So, how can you make donors feel valued? Here are a few suggestions for you to incorporate into your fundraising activities:
1. Personally handwrite a write a thank you note. This should be done as soon as you can after the receipt of a gift!
2. Schedule time each month to make thank you phone calls for gifts over a certain amount. That might be $100, $1000, or whatever amount you deem appropriate.
3. Publicly acknowledge your donors. Add a donor recognition section on your website and/or include donor names in your publications.
4. Invite your donors to events, board meetings, and educational seminars to hear more about your work and the outcomes of their generosity. Even better, host an appreciation reception just for them!
5. Take out an ad in your local newspaper to thank your donors and the community for their support!
6. Ask your donors not just for money but for their advice, expertise, and time!
7. Send an anniversary card to recognize your donors for 5, 10, 15, 20 years of giving loyalty. Have your board members personally sign the card.
A well-stewarded donor is more likely to maintain a warm relationship with your organization for a long time and to give larger and more frequent gifts. It is your opportunity to make your donors feel special. The investment of your time and minimal resources are well worth the outcomes you will achieve.
What type of stewardship activities do you utilize in your organization’s fundraising program? I would love to hear examples.
Dr. Jill Nilsen has more than 35 years experience working at Eastern Illinois University and was responsible for all of the external outreach to their many customers. She was responsible for marketing, communications, fundraising and building strong alumni relationships. She also is an active volunteer in the regional nonprofit sector having served as board president of the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce, Excellence in Education Foundation for Charleston, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center Board, and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Jill and her husband Hank reside in Charleston.