For the past two weeks I’ve been talking a lot about donor stewardship, recognition, and retention all in honor of Stewardship School being open for enrollment. If you’re interested in learning more about Stewardship School, click here.
I write about and teach donor stewardship a lot. In fact, I get a lot of emails from non-profit professionals each week who want to pick my brain about stewardship. Today I thought it would be fun to have a virtual coffee with you!
The best way to increase your revenue is through stewardship
One of the questions I get ask most often is, “How can we raise more money?” My answer – focus on building outstanding relationships with your current donors. It costs a lot more money to acquire new donors than it does to increase a current donor’s gift amount.
Here’s the catch – donor stewardship means you must be consistently building relationship with donors.
Taking action is what prevents most organizations from achieving this kind of success. Schedule time in your calendar for stewardship. Ruthlessly prioritize what actually brings in revenue, and let go of the rest.
One of the biggest pitfalls that organizations have with donor stewardship is a lack of consistency. We start off with good intentions, but soon the tyranny of the urgent takes over and stewardship takes a back seat.
I see the solution to this as being two-fold. First, we have to prioritize our donors. Every time we decided that stewardship is not a priority, we are essentially saying that we don’t care about our donors. I know that might seem like a radical thing to say, but this is the impression we give to our donors when we don’t steward them well.
Second, we have to have a plan to sustain consistency. Developing a donor stewardship plan is the best thing you can do. A donor stewardship plan will tell you exactly who you need to steward, how and when.
The game is about being memorable
What is stewardship really about? At its core it is about showing gratitude and telling donors about their impact. We know from research that Roger Craver and Penelope Burke have done that donors tend to not make a subsequent gift when they have not understood how their gift was used.
Realistically, any organization can demonstrate gratitude and tell donors about their impact through stewardship. The real goal is to be memorable – for donors to remember how great they felt when they made a gift.
The actions you take, the stories you share, the feelings you cultivate in a donor’s heart and mind are what make your organization memorable.
Want to pick my brain some more? Have a stewardship question you want me to answer? Leave a comment below!