Donor stewardship is the key to high donor retention rates. But often times, fundraising staff find it challenging to carve out time in their busy, overworked schedules for quality donor stewardship such as thank you phone calls.
Beyond thank you phone calls, there are a number of other ways that you can provide your donors with meaningful stewardship. One of my favourites is a handwritten note – either on their receipt or on a separate card.
The Harvard Business Review recently published an article called, “Handwritten Notes Are a Rare Commodity. They’re Also More Important Than Ever.” The article cites a U.S. Postal Service survey, which suggests that, “the average home only received a personal letter once every seven weeks in 2010, down from once every two weeks in 1987. ” That’s a pretty astonishing drop, and an opportunity to stand out from the rest of the mail with a thoughtful gesture.
Handwritten notes are often overlooked as a stewardship touch point. But the reality is that they suggest just as much thoughtfulness as a personal phone call to say thanks. Writing out a thank you note demonstrates 2 key points to the donor:
1. You’ve taken the time to notice their gift among all of the gifts you’re receiving
2. You care about their support so much so that you took the time to recognize it in a very custom way
Both of these points relay back to a very simple idea – being thoughtful. This makes your charity seem less bureaucratic and inaccessible, and gives the donor a strong sense of connection to you. That in and of itself is priceless.
Curious to see if this really works?
Create three stewardship test groups for your next appeal.
Group 1: Send the standard thank you letter.
Group 2: Send the standard thank you letter and include a handwritten note on it.
Group 3: Handwrite the standard thank you letter.
Track these groups in your database to determine if there are lifts in their giving during your next appeal, or if they make a gift sooner.