As fundraisers, you know that special days take on a new meaning for nonprofits. Your workload intensifies by random donation requests and volunteering questions, for example. It’s easy to see how donor stewardship during the holidays and special occasions, like this Sunday’s Mother’s Day, can get put to the side.
These special days should be a prime time for you to steward your donors. Often, you will see a number of first time gifts and additional gifts from regular donors. This means you need a plan for donor retention.
It’s the savvy fundraiser who knows that making stewardship a priority during these special times will result in better ROI in future campaigns. Though I certainly know that offering great stewardship for annual giving donors is challenging because of the volume of donors you may have, I want to offer you 4 Ideas to personalize stewardship for annual giving donors to help you capitalize on future donor retention:
- Handwritten Note on Acknowledgement Letters or Tax Receipts – You’ll need some parameters for this. For example, for 1st time donors or gifts over $500 send a note. Be sure to track stewardship activity in your database. Who responds to what? Examples: “Your compassion will be felt by many people during this special time.” Or, “On paper your gift is a number, but in life it’s giving someone hope for a brighter future. Thank you!”
- Send a Holiday Card that Includes a Handwritten Element to It – Many nonprofits send cards to their supporters. My one recommendation here is to send a handwritten note on the card you send. It will make it stand out as much less mass produced. In other words, as Penelope Burk noted in a seminar, make your supporters feel like you have taken the time to create something just for them.
- Make a Thank You Phone Call – I understand that making thank you phone calls is very time consuming. Remember though, that someone has taken the time to make a gift to your nonprofit and as a good steward of that gift you should take the time to call to show your appreciation. Usually, these calls will only take a minute or two and they are a great way to connect on a personal level with donors. I read not too long ago that less than 10$% of nonprofits make thank you phone calls to their donors (Engage Telemarketing). Seems like a whole lot of possibility to play in a field of opportunity to stand out above the competition to me.
- Create a Short Thank You Video for Online Donors – I reallylike this one a lot — Consider filming your executive director or Bd Chair delivering a short thank you message that can be emailed to the supporters after their gift has been made.
Do you have any ideas for personalizing annual giving stewardship that you could add to the above list? What’s working? What isn’t?