Delicious Donor Stewardship Ideas

Diagnosis? Delicious!

Diagnosis? Delicious!
(image by clevercupcakes)

This one’s all about the love – donor love.

Remember my first stewardship piece covering the basics for personalized, impact-focused donor updates? Well, here’s the promised follow-up with some specific ideas you can try out back at the ranch. Our two-pronged approach is to inform and connect.

Inform them with bite-sized, sexy communications

You may need to write a full report on the gift at year’s end, but don’t wait for this boring, administrative milestone to roll around. Send some quick teasers throughout the year! I recommend a touch point every six to eight weeks.

  • I have heard of donors receiving updates on coconuts (legal to mail in the continental U.S.), on Frisbees, through candy grams, etc. You get the idea: don’t be afraid to stand out. Be brief, interesting and memorable.
  • Test email over mail, but don’t send out a mass update with Constant Contact or Mailchimp. Instead, sit down and type out a short (100-word) email to each individual. Reference something they told you the last time you met. Tell them ONE interesting piece of news about your cause. When I worked at the David Suzuki Foundation, I’d tell donors where David was that week and why. I’d share any direct quote I had heard from him recently – ideally, the ones that were “off the record.” Try sharing tidbits from your leaders or program staff.
  • Offer exclusivity by sharing information that is not widely available – “the costumes for the new play came in yesterday and they are amazing!” – to let the donor know they are special enough to warrant insider information. Send them a link to hot news on a password-protected webpage for special donors only. Give them advance access to event tickets, announcements and new project launches.
  • Use photos and videos whenever you can. A link to a YouTube video of your work in action requires no further explanation. Imagine working at the SPCA and sending your donor a video clip of a volunteer helping a batch of kittens that just arrived that day. Keep it easy and informal by using your iPhone. And don’t worry about editing it – just keep it under two minutes.
  • Track all these touch points and use them as the outline for the formal stewardship report. I can tell you from personal experience that this will save you hours in preparation and writing time!

Connect them to the cause they love

You’re on your way with excellent information updates, but don’t forget the value of connecting donors directly to what you do.

This one may seem scary at first, but you can start with something easy, like asking your donor to review your case for support. Ask whether it sounds appealing. Find out what images your donor prefers. See if she understands the jargon you plan to use. That wasn’t so hard! Now think about inviting her to get involved in other ways. The more “hands-on” the better.

  • Do you do advocacy? Get the donor to try out your new petition before it’s released and ask her to be the first to sign it.
  • Into health? Why not invite the donor to take part in your next study on exercise habits, or to review your upcoming campaign materials around banning chemicals in beauty products?
  • Are you a green charity? Put together a team of donors to pull invasive weeds in the local park or to conduct a shoreline clean-up with a picnic afterwards.
  • Need help? Ask your donor to spread the word through her networks when you need volunteers for a new project.
  • Need a marketing push? Get donors to provide personal testimonials for your work or to serve as guest bloggers on your website and social media channels.

As you can see, there’s something fun to suit every cause. If you’re still stumped, leave a comment below and we’ll come up with an idea together.

–        Siobhan : )

PS. Hope this floats your boat Steph!


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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