Why Your Next Major Gift is a Well-Stewarded One

thank you card

Never-Miss Fundraising Steps to Donor Fulfillment

Have you ever had the sinking feeling that you could have done more to thank a donor and share with them the impact of their gift? Do you ever get to your internal deadline—the end of year or the public phase of a major campaign—and wonder why you haven’t heard from a tried-and-true donor?

If a donor disappeared, maybe it’s because you haven’t made stewardship a priority in your weekly tasks. It’s understandable. Your development shop is busy and there’s always that goal to reach. Plus, it’s not like donors go away mad. They simply go away.

Today’s donors are more savvy philanthropists and they want to make a difference. So, when you begin to “expect” regular gifts without investing in the relationship, some of your donors may move you down their charitable giving priority list.

Being lackadaisical about what a donor thinks, wants and needs can especially backfire if your organization has a crisis — your mission is called under question or your Board Chair makes a public misstep. And let’s face it, it smarts when you see a donor stretch to make a sizeable gift to another local organization. It could have been your organization getting that big gift instead!

Follow Your Heart but Use Your Head

You’re probably not in this business because the job selling real estate wasn’t available. Development and Advancement professionals are salespeople: we “sell” mission and passion for changing the world for good.

Here are a few never-miss steps to jumpstart your stewardship efforts:

  1. Set time aside in your week for stewardship tasks. Make stewardship as active a part of your workweek as donor research and annual fund mailings.
  2. Host a thank you event, and resist the pull to ask for more support.
  3. Lift donors up as examples. Profile giving in your newsletters and annual reports.
  4. Thank your donors via social media. Add a space on your donor forms to collect social media handles for platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.
  5. Pen a personal thank you note.
  6. Use the phone and visit! Make time for human interaction. What’s their life perspective, how’s their family, what are their hopes and dreams as a benefactor? Don’t miss a career change or big event in someone’s life because you are overly-focused on meeting your deadline.
  7. Use your calendar and other tools to monitor interactions and remind you when it’s time for you, your director or a Board member to reach out.
  8. Recognize generosity through print, online, signage and at events. Get creative. Perhaps you can monitor how many years they have been giving and remind them how thankful you are for their impact over time.
  9. Say thanks again. Let them know their philanthropy makes a difference in the world. And, if you missed the first opportunity to say it, know it’s never too late to say “thank you.”

The gift is the beginning. Not the end.

Your job is donor fulfillment. After all, you connect donors with their dreams.

Donors invest where they see impact. You can leave a bad taste in the mouth, or even money on the table, when you don’t invest time back in your donors.

So, what’s the wait? Get started today. You’ll be glad you invested in stewardship this time next year.