Great Donor Stewardship in 3 Easy Steps

Use the News! (photo by Marcel Germain)

Use the News!
(photo by Marcel Germain)

Notice I said “easy” and not “quick!” That’s because good donor stewardship takes a bit of elbow grease to get the best results.

In this case, grease means finding juicy content.

Sure, you can send donors a stewardship report on what they gave to and keep them on the newsletter list, but I’d like to suggest adding some more personal touch points.

Step One: Gather some behind-the-scenes content

Give your donors access to the inside scoop. Informally interview the programs staff and put together a quick story and quote based on what they’re up to. Don’t ask for formal updates or anything in writing, as they’ll likely send you a committee-approved blurb in jargon-ese. Useless.

At the David Suzuki Foundation, I’d mug our scientists in the kitchen on their way to the coffee pot (shade grown and bird friendly of course). At United Way, I’d do the rounds with chocolate in hand and casually ask our homeless support workers what was up. Getting unscripted information is always best.

Step Two: Set key Google alerts for more content

Sometimes, finding sexy content is a challenge. Yes, you’re always busy saving the world, but sometimes you want to send a donor touch point and it’s a slow news day at your charity.

My two-pronged sexy-content-finding approach is to set Google alerts on your mission (“homelessness,” “opera,” etc.) and on your donors (“Vancouver Foundation,” “Coast Capital Savings,” etc.).

In the first example, when you see media stories on your issue area, you can share them with donors and match the info to what you do. Example: Send a link to a story on bullying and mention your anti-bullying programs. You get the idea. Your donors want to know you are working on relevant issues.

In the second example, when you see great stories about your donors, send them some snaps. Acknowledging their successes might not directly relate to their funding, but will go a long way to developing the relationship. Example: You might work at a children’s charity and send a congratulatory email to a funder who’s in the news for building a new playground.

Step Three: Send that sexy content in an email to each donor

There are two secrets here: be wildly brief, and address and send each email one at a time. No cheating with group blasts using Constant Contact! A real email to one donor is more likely to be opened. And by brief, I mean maybe two sentences followed by a second paragraph with three or four more lines – max.

Don’t forget to log this amazing activity in your donor database. Is it time consuming? Hell yes! But I have seen this transform a donor’s gift from $10,000 to $100,000 in six months. For real.

Siobhan out. : )


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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