Every good non-profit fundraiser knows that donors are the lifeblood of your organization. Without donors, you wouldn’t be able to afford an office, staff, phones, or any of the programs you provide.
Thus, your donors need to be thanked and recognized for their vital contributions to your non-profit. We call this process of post-gift cultivation and recognition “donor stewardship.”
Most organizations have some sort of donor stewardship program in place, but the majority of the small and mid-sized non-profits I have worked with aren’t aware that there are three key goals for a strong donor stewardship system.
3 Goals that Drive Post-Gift Cultivation
Ideally, you ought to have three goals that drive the strategy behind all of your post-gift cultivation.
#1: Donor Retention
The first goal of your donor stewardship system is donor retention. This means keeping the relationship with your donor strong enough that the donor continues to give year after year.
To accomplish this goal, you will need to thank and recognize your donor so that they know how important they are to your organization, and continue to communicate with them to keep your non-profit top of mind for future giving. You will also need to make occasional renewal asks to seek their continued financial support.
#2: Donor Upgrades
The second goal of your donor stewardship system is donor upgrades. This means building on the relationship you already have with the donor so that you are in a position to ask them for more money this year than they gave last year. This is called “upgrading your donor” and is vital to the success of growing organizations.
In order to successfully upgrade your donors, you need to build a system for getting them gradually more involved with your organization. Your donors will only upgrade when you ask them to, so you will need to build upgrade asks into your donor stewardship system.
#3: Donor Referrals
The third goal of your donor stewardship system is donor referrals. A “referral” is when your current donors open up their networks to you and introduce you to their friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, vendors, clients, etc. You then build relationships with these referred prospects to build trust and ultimately ask them for gifts to your organization.
In order to earn referrals, you need to continue deepening the relationships you have with your current donors, cast a huge vision for them, and directly ask them to make referrals to your team.
Your donor stewardship system is vital to the success of your non-profit. Build your system around these three goals. Focus on donor retention, donor upgrades, and donor referrals. A stewardship system that successfully pursues these three approaches will help your non-profit get off of the donor treadmill and build a lasting base of financial support for your organization.
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