If you’ve read any articles about nonprofit fundraising in the last few years, chances are you’ve heard the experts talk about the importance of donor stewardship. Why? Not only does it help your organization build relationships with donors, it helps to retain them. And nothing could be more vital to a successful year-end campaign.
As we enter the busy year-end fundraising season, now is the perfect time to prioritize donor stewardship. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of five segments for year-end stewardship. These segments will ensure that you’ve thanked all donors properly. Plus, we’ve done the heavy lifting of creating a list of suggested touch points for each segment.
Nonprofits tend to see an increase in new donors during December. But with the costs of acquiring a new donor easily being 50 to 100 percent of their donation, you need a plan to keep them around for years to come. Here are a few ideas for stewarding your new donors:
- Thank you letter or acknowledgement letter. Use our eGuide, How to Write Better Thank Yous, for reference and helpful tips.
- Thank you phone call. Use your staff or volunteers to spread the love.
- Send them an impact story. This is a great way for donors to learn about the impact of their giving. Here are some easy storytelling ideas that will help you engage donors.
Every nonprofit defines their segments differently. Typically, the majority of your annual donors are those giving under $500 per year. As this group is most likely your largest segment of donors, it can be difficult to provide great stewardship to everyone. For this segment, prioritize scalable stewardship. This means touchpoints that your organization can easily execute for many donors such as:
- Holiday cards.
- Acknowledgement letters.
- Social media shout-out. Add fields for your donors’ Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram handles to your online donation form, and then tag them in your social posts. Use Network for Good’s online donation pages to easily add custom fields and capture this information. Here’s a great example of the final product from McMaster University.
Mid-level donors are a special group that donate more than the average small dollar donor, but below major gifts. For some donors, they are giving at their highest capacity. For others, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. But no matter where your donor is at, stewardship at this level ensures that you retain them and cultivate those who are potential major donors.
- Handwritten holiday cards.
- Increase their access. Consider inviting mid-level donors to some of your major donor appreciation events. Assign relationships managers to donors for that personalized experience. Check out these additional ways to improve mid-level donor engagement.
- Personal visit. This is a great cultivation activity for mid-level donors because it gives your organization an opportunity to start building face-to-face relationships and prospect for potential major donors.
Having a monthly donor program is a terrific idea as it provides your nonprofit with predictable revenue each month. However, these donors can be an overlooked segment for stewardship since they donate on autopilot each month. Use the end of the year as a special time to recognize their giving.
- Year-in-review report. Monthly donors give every month, but they don’t usually get year-round thank yous. Make it a point to give them a special report at the end of the year that speaks to the impact of monthly donors.
- Handwritten holiday cards. Use the information you keep in your donors’ records to write them a personally meaningful note. Here are more ideas for using fundraising software to improve donor stewardship.
- Launch a branded monthly donor program to foster a sense of belonging in 2019 and beyond. Check out our Monthly Gifts Checklist for more ideas for monthly donor stewardships.
For more on how to engage your monthly donors, download a copy of Network for Good’s eGuide, A Quick-Start Guide to Monthly Giving.
Many major donors are considering gifts before the end of the year, or are starting to think about their giving for the following year. By stewarding them in December, you’ll ensure that your nonprofit is top of mind and has built a solid relationship with them.
- Personal visits. Schedule one-on-one lunches with your top major donors.
- Holiday thank you gift. This could be something as simple as a poinsettia or other seasonal gift that donors (and their families) may enjoy.
- Host a holiday appreciation event. The holidays are a busy season for parties, but even a small appreciation event can make a big impact.
Don’t let December pass by without doing any donor stewardship. Stay on top of your thank yous by setting aside an hour or two each week to thank donors for recent gifts. This weekly habit will help you thank donors in a timely fashion so that you can hit the ground running in 2019.