Win-Win Solutions: Spread the Donor Stewardship Workload Among Your Board Members

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Win-Win Solutions: Spread the Donor Stewardship Workload Among Your Board Members

The following article, based on an interview with CapDev VP, Clare Jordan, was published in “Successful Fundraising” in April 2023, written by Kim Pawlak:

Even though there is much evidence about the benefits of good stewardship, so few organizations do it really well, says Clare Jordan, vice president of Capital Development Services (Winston-Salem, NC).

“It costs seven times more to acquire new donors than to retain donors, but we’re dismal at retention,” she says. “The vast majority of donors feel like they’re not visited unless the organization is there to ask for money. Most donors say they would give again if they received a prompt thank you and additional communication showing the impact of their gift and how it was used.”

Part of the problem, she says, is determining who is responsible for stewardship. One way to counter that is to create a board stewardship committee and appoint a stewardship chair at the board level charged with taking stewardship beyond the simple tax reference letter. “Appointing a stewardship chair at the board level ensures there is someone who is always thinking about how donors are thanked and stewarded,” says Jordan.

Have board members write handwritten thank notes and call donors. “Having board members call first-time donors increases the donation amount and the likelihood of a second gift,” she says. “It also engages your board members so that they begin to think of themselves as ambassadors for the organization. They feel good about it because they’re able to say good things about what the organization is doing. Donors realize you’re not going to ask them for money, you’re just calling to say thank you. And when you do that, you can follow that up with, ‘Tell me what excites you about the organization? Tell me why you gave? Why does this organization matter to you? In doing so, you start to learn something about the donor that can be shared and that is useful knowledge to track in your database.”

Handwritten notes, phone calls and personalized gifts such as a framed photo of the donor at an event, says Jordan, are all ways of showing people the impact of their gift and which result in building longer term donor relations. Other ideas for stewarding your donors include video testimonials, short video clips from the chancellor or the recipient of a scholarship, an impact report or a photobook.

“There’s nothing wrong with repeatedly thanking people,” she says. “That is how donors feel appreciated.”

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