As you enter the new year you’re likely thinking about your goals and adjusting your strategy accordingly. One of the most important things to evaluate right now is your nonprofit’s donor stewardship strategy. Donor stewardship reaffirms to your donors that they made a good decision when supporting your organization. People appreciate being thanked for offering their support, which will in turn encourage them to donate or volunteer again in the future, donate or volunteer more frequently, and share your purpose with their network. Plus, your stewardship efforts could encourage them to support more nonprofit organizations, which improves the nonprofit ecosystem as a whole.
Nonprofit donor stewardship is key to retaining new donors from your year-end campaign, continuing to engage with recurring donors, and even reengaging lapsed donors. But how do you get started with donor stewardship and ensure your strategy leads to success? Keep reading for three tips you can implement for a winning donor stewardship strategy.
1. Get Started.
First and foremost, you have to start somewhere. Donor stewardship can often be very overwhelming, but having a simple strategy in place is better than nothing. Start by sending thank-you emails or making thank-you phone calls to donors who contributed to your year-end campaign. Set a goal of sending a certain number of emails or making a certain number of phone calls per day each week. Even an hour of stewardship work can make a huge impact.
When you’re ready, utilize your Network for Good software to segment your donors, sending personalized messages to recurring donors and lapsed donors. You can even send video and text messages through the platform.
2. Consider the Donor Stewardship Lifecycle.
In our webinar, Donor Stewardship Strategies to Start the New Year Strong, Network for Good Personal Fundraising Coach Cherian Koshy reviews the donor stewardship lifecycle. For every 1,000 prospects, a nonprofit only acquires about 20 new donors. Of those 20, about nine renew and 11 lapse. Of the nine who renew, only about one donor upgrades and of the 11 who lapse, only about one donor donates again. This is why donor stewardship is so important. The more you work to engage with and thank your donors, the more likely you are to retain these new donors for the long term.
3. Follow the Eight Phases of Donor Engagement.
Donor engagement typically follows eight phases, each of which creates a stronger bond with donors.
- The first two phases, Identify and Initiate, are the donor’s responsibility. Donors start their philanthropic journey by identifying causes they care about and organizations that support those causes. Then the donor takes action by making a donation or volunteering their time to an organization. Nonprofits can play a part in these phases by hosting events where prospects can learn more about their organization and by maintaining an active presence on social media and within the community.
- The next phase is where the nonprofit can start to make an impact. In the Insist and Impel phases, donors have made a donation, are experiencing feelings of dissonance, and need reassurance. By taking the step to thank these donors, send a post-donation welcome, and share more information about your organization’s purpose, you will reassure the donor’s decision to support your organization and make them feel welcome.
- The next phase, Instill, is one of the most important steps to making your donors feel welcome. At this point, take the time to send more personalized messages, invite donors to exclusive experiences like facility tours, and make sure they see their individual impact. Utilize Network for Good’s communication tools to send personalized messages to certain donor segments or even individual donors.
- Next, in the Impact phase, donors need to know what kind of impact their support is making. Show them that their support is valuable with an impact report on the change your organization has made and where you’re going in the future.
- Finally, in the Include and Invite phases, your donors have begun to feel like part of your organization. They feel included and use insider language to describe their relationship with the organization. They promote the organization to their network and serve as an enthusiastic advocate for your work.
Donor stewardship can be tricky, but it is key to growing your organization and making lasting impact. Investing in a strong donor stewardship strategy now will lead to a more successful year. Interested in learning more about important steps you can take during each phase of donor stewardship to reach this goal? Watch our on-demand webinar, Donor Stewardship Strategies to Start the New Year Strong.
Published: January 10, 2023