Donor Stewardship – What’s Old is New Again

Old school donor stewardship activities keep popping up. We need to recalibrate our stewardship plans, integrate our donor outreach activities and truly engage with our donors!

Sending hard copy, hand written thank you notes

Using a cave man brain and body in a digital world* – You know we can work 24/7/365 because of technology. That does not mean our cave man brain and body want or need to work that way. And when it comes to donor relations, pulling out a note card, real sheet of paper, your best pen and handwriting to write a note still means something in 2011. Remember writing notes? When that was how we communicated with donors? The cave man in us still wants to get a piece mail that is not a bill. We still appreciate the time and thought it takes to write and read a real note and not an electronic communication. And given how this old school practice is falling by the wayside, imagine what a positive impact this small act can have on your work with donors, volunteers, friends and neighbors. This idea of note writing keeps coming up. Get thee to the paper store, print note cards for your organization, use a piece of organization letterhead – just don’t put it through the laser printer!

Using the Telephone

I wrote a post about this after attending the Bridge conference last year. Seems there is some challenge about picking up the phone and calling donors. To cultivate, to say thank you, to HAVE A CONVERSATION. In real time, using our listening and communication skills. Remember that old piece of technology on your desk or in your pocket? Dust them off or use in your donor stewardship program.

Customizing/Personalizing Appeals

We have a default setting – customize all fundraising communications:

  • Electronic mail merge is the rage!
  • In all electronic and appeal communications – use salutations – no Dear Friend
  • Segment lists and create appropriate content to be donor-centric in our communications
  • Ask amounts are merged according to past giving history
  • Signatures are electronic jpegs and sometimes different signatures are used for different segments

But after the gift comes in…the electronic (versus personal) thank you continues. We need to amp up the stewardship and be thoughtful about how we steward the relationship after the gift comes in. Create a plan for after every appeal program, online, via mail or in person. Effectively using welcome series combined with personal outreach and events has a very positive impact on donor relations.

*Check out Jon Cabat-Zin

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