This time of year many non-profits are sending out Spring appeals. That means that you will have donations rolling in and donors that you will need to say thank you to. I personally believe that donor stewardship is the most important task in the fundraising process. If you don’t say thank you (and say it well), your donors will not know their impact, they won’t feel appreciated, and eventually they will stop making donations.
The Donor Retention Cure
The best way to prevent all of this from happening is to start stewarding your donor. NOW!
Not all donor stewardship is equal. I have no doubt that you have probably seen a terrible non-profit thank you letter. One that starts with, “On behalf of . . .” and is full of stale, uninspiring language.
The best donor stewardship exemplifies these three qualities:
- It is donor-centered and puts the donor first
- It is chock full of genuine gratitude
- It gives donors tangible examples of their gift’s impact
Most non-profits struggle with #3. I’ve read so many thank you letters and annual reports over the years that say things like, “You’re making an impact” or “You’re making a difference.” Those statements are so vague. What do they actually mean?
This is where it is hugely beneficial to stories in donor stewardship. Stories are a far more engaging way to communicate with donors. Stories naturally provide donors with tangible examples of the work they make possible.
How Can You Use Stories in Stewardship?
There are a lot of ways to use stories in non-profit fundraising and communications materials. Here are three easy ways that you can use stories in donor stewardship.
Idea #1 Thank You Letter – Pull out a copy of your current thank you letter and read it. Is there a specific example of your non-profit’s work? If not, this is where you can include a story. One of the techniques that I like to use is to lead with a story, then transition into talking about other things. I find this makes for a more engaging thank you letter.
Idea #2 Online Donation Landing Page – After your donors make a gift online, they are usually redirected to a different website page. Do a bit of investigating to find out what currently happens during the online donation process on your website. If your donors are redirected to a different page after they finish making their gift, consider putting a couple of stories on that page.
Idea #3 Thank You Phone Calls – You make thank you phone calls to your donors, right? Those phone calls are a great opportunity to tell your donors a story or two. If you feel nervous about telling a story in a conversation, write yourself a script or jot down a few talking points for the call.
Those are just a few ideas for using stories in donor stewardship.
If donor stewardship is a priority for your organization, I encourage you to check out Stewardship School. Registration opens on March 30 of this 6 week program that will help you create a stewardship plan that works for your donors. This will be the 3rd class that Shanon Doolittle and I are hosting and we are super exciting to work with the amazing Stewardship School Students!