Successful Non-Profit Stewardship

4-steps-to-stewardshipWe all know that donors are the life-blood of any non-profit organization. With just 27% of donors giving  a second contribution to the same organization, it is imperative that a stewardship program be established.

What is Stewardship? The process of managing and caring for donors with the ultimate goal of developing a lasting relationship is known as stewardship. It is a key step in retaining current donors as well as a proven method of cultivating the next generation of major donors. Through stewardship, non-profit organizations deepen their relationship with their key contributors.

Successful Stewardship! Implementation of a stewardship program takes some planning. Include these 4 key elements in your plan for greater success.

1. Acknowlegement

It’s common courtesy to acknowledge any gift your non-profit receives. Sending off a timely thank you with a tax receipt is typical.

Your acknowledgement should show your donor you appreciate them and not just their donation. Rather than a typical form thank you note, consider these more personal alternatives:

  • A handwritten note from your executive director
  • A phone call from a board member
  • A short video of appreciation

Whatever method you choose to convey your appreciation, strive to make it donor centered and not about your organization.

2. Recognition

People don’t contribute to an organization to receive recognition, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like or appreciate it. These are the three most common ways to publicly acknowledge a donor.

  • A listing on your website
  • Wall of recognition in your building
  • Including their names on event signage

Some donors choose to be anonymous. If this is the case, be respectful and not include them.

3. Engagement

Keeping your donor engaged with your organization will increase the likelihood of further, larger contributions. Letting donors know specifically what their donations are doing to further your cause is good practice.

Don’t just TELL them, SHOW them! Using pictures in your correspondence is an easy way to show them how their money is being used.

Consider hosting an event and inviting donors to attend at no cost, of course. The event is the perfect opportunity to share with them all the good you have been able to do thanks to their generosity. This also serves as a great opportunity for them to connect with other like minded individuals that share a common interest. It’s a win-win for all!

4. Feedback

It’s hard to determine exactly what donors want. Don’t waste your time guessing — instead, simply ASK them!

Sending out an annual survey to donors specifically asking for their input on their experience and the programs you offer is the perfect way to solicit feedback. It shows that you truly care and value their opinion.

Hosting a donor roundtable is another way to offer your supporters a forum for commenting their encounters with your organization. The downside to this method is it limits you to only hearing from local donors.

Get Started!

With the goal of obtaining larger gifts and increasing your donor base, it is time to start stewarding your donors.

What stewarding programs have you successfully implemented?



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