Step by Step Stewardship Donor Retention Strategies that Work

Philanthropy starts with gratitude, but it is the one thing that seems to always get lost.

I think of gratitude as “And then?” — those actions that happen after a person says yes. It’s what you do once the gift is given.

THESE ARE DONOR RETENTION STRATEGIES AND THEY ARE CRITICAL FOR KEEPING YOUR DONORS HAPPY.

Keeping donors happy is just plain good sense. A happy donor is likely to become a donor again. And again. Unhappy donors, however, are likely to become lapsed donors. That is, the 60% or so of donors who never make a second gift to an organization, or the 30% who fall away each year.

That’s a tremendous waste of time and effort. It’s also not a good way to build a successful fund development department or a sustainable nonprofit.

THE FOCUS OF THIS BOOK IS STEWARDSHIP. BY THE TIME YOU REACH THE LAST PAGE, YOU WILL KNOW:

• What, exactly, is stewardship?

• Why does it matter?

More than that, you’ll be able to ensure that donor retention strategies are an integral part of your development agenda. Indeed, you’ll see how stewardship can be used to create a more effective fundraising program.

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– A Sneak Peak Into “Step by Step Stewardship Donor Retention Strategies that Work”

Take an Inside Look at the Chapters of This eBook:

Introduction

Clients, people who read my blogs and newsletters, and those who participate in my trainings all know that I firmly believe that philanthropy starts with gratitude. Alas, that is the one thing that seems to always get lost. I think of gratitude as…

Chapter 1: What is Stewardship?

I’ve mentioned the word “Stewardship” quite a bit. Indeed, it’s a word that appears prominently in this eBook’s title. But what, exactly does it mean?

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervising, or management of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

Let’s translate that into fundraising-ese…

Chapter 2: Why Does Stewardship Matter?

A number of years ago, I was doing a workshop on Building a Donor Pool. There were Executive and Development Directors from 35 discrete organizations.

“It’s so frustrating,” one of the participants said. “We get a donor, but then we never get another gift.”

I looked around the room and saw a lot of nodding heads.

“How many of you,” I asked, “send a thank you letter to every single donor for every single gift, regardless of size?” Two hands immediately shot up. The rest of the…

Chapter 3: Donor Attrition

In the United States, less than half of donors who made a gift in one year make a repeat gift the next.

While it is true that larger organizations have less attrition than small ones, losing donors is a problem for all of us. Getting new donors — or at least new gifts to offset the loss of your donors — may not be the most feasible solution to the problem.

For over 40 years, charitable giving in the US has…

Chapter 4: Defining Your Donor Retention Strategies

A strategy is a broad plan of action to meet a specific or set of goals. Defining your donor retention strategies means planning for the larger picture of what you will do to steward certain groups of donors.

VERY LARGE NONPROFITS OFTEN HAVE AN ENTIRE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED WITH DONOR RELATIONS.

But for most nonprofits, donor relations is simply another part of the job of the development director. Because donor retention is so important, it is critical that you…

Chapter 5: Providing Appropriate Recognition

When donors make really large gifts, you want to make sure that you have the creativity to steward those donors in special ways.

In one of my past lives, a former Board chair was termed out. As her final Board act, she made a rather large gift. She didn’t want anything named after her, nor did she want or, frankly, need a special reception. I didn’t need to take her out to dinner. We did that often enough. But we couldn’t just let the gift go uncelebrated.

We decided to do something special at our gala, which was two and a half months away. At that event we…

Chapter 6: Regular Reporting on the Gift

Of all the donor retention strategies we’ve discussed, ensuring donors that their gift really was used as intended and that the project or program really is having the desired result is by far the most important.

DONOR BRIEFINGS Letting donors know about the impact of their gift is a critical stewardship step, especially (but not exclusively) for larger donors. You can do this face to face or in writing.

Either way, it can be for one individual or a group of supporters.

Summary

Stewardship is too often the forgotten step in a development program. We focus so much on getting gifts we fail to remember that much of the important work happens after the donation is made.

A strong stewardship program creates so much value that it really is worth the extra effort. Among the outcomes you can expect are…

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