Stewardship is at the core of a great fundraising strategy. It is what shows donors that the organization they’ve entrusted their money to is appreciative of the gift, has used it wisely and that they’ve had an impact on the cause. Creating a stewardship plan to help you track what you’re doing and when is the best way to make the most of your stewardship. In fact, if you’re doing stewardship well the plan will tell you exactly when you need to have contact with donors over the course of the year. If you’re creating a stewardship plan for the first time or updating an existing one, you may need some new donor stewardship ideas.
Even if your non-profit is a seasoned pro at stewardship, it can be difficult to come up with fresh ideas each year. Here are 21 donor stewardship ideas.
- Schedule monthly times for making thank calls. Get everyone in the department to commit to this as a team!
- Make a special thank you video for one of your appeals.
- Develop a stewardship section on your website to engage online donors.
- Host an appreciation event.
- Create a new donor welcome package.
- Recognize in honor/in memory gifts in a special way. Maybe with a specially designed thank you card.
- Profile donors in your communications, like the newsletter.
- Create a stewardship report for one of your main program or service.
- Digitize your annual report to reach more of your supporters.
- Create a stewardship matrix to show what you’ll do for donors who give at various levels. For instance, $1 to $99, $100 to $249, $249 to $500. That way all staff members will be on the same page for stewardship.
- Thank donors via social media. Add a field to collect Twitter handles to your donation form.
- Revamp your online gift autoresponder. You know, that email people get to confirm their gift? Make it more awesome!
- Take out an ad in the local newspaper on National Philanthropy Day to thank your community.
- Revise your thank you letter template annually. No one wants to receive the same, stale copy for 10+ years.
- Be thoughtful – make notes of personal details your hear in conversation with donors. Did Sally tell you her daughter is celebrating her 10th birthday this weekend? Ask how the party was the next time you talk to her. People will always appreciate the fact that they were heard.
- Genuinely make an effort to get to know your donors. The phone is your friend in this endeavor.
- Know your donors’ wished and respect them – use an annual survey to collect this information and record it on donors’ records.
- Start your thank you letters with something other than, “On behalf of [x organization], thank you for your recent gift,” or “Thank you for your recent gift.” Boring!
- Resolve any donor complaints and issues within 24 hours. Yes, this is not the most fun part of our job but it is at the core of being a good steward.
- Handwrite thank you notes.
- Send an anniversary card to recognize donor loyalty and have it signed by the Chair of the Board or Executive Director. Make cards for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of giving.
Stewardship is personally my favorite part of fundraising because it’s an opportunity to surprise and delight donors. The unfortunate state of things is that donors do not often receive thank yous from non-profits, so when they do it feels very special.
Looking for more storytelling and donor stewardship ideas? Check out these posts:
4 Qualities Every Stewardship Story Must Have
Story-based Stewardship – Why It Works
Need some more donor stewardship inspiration? Check out the FREE Non-Profit Stewardship Toolkit!
Thank you for the great tips! Can you recommend any institutions who have good examples of a stewardship area on their website?