Your Digital Nonprofit: The Social Profit Stack

A Shining Star: The Art of Online Donor Stewardship 🌱

Published 7 months ago • 3 min read

When I was a full-time fundraiser in 2014, I often wondered how we’d steward our recurring donors.

The donors I helped manage gave more yearly than most of our annual donors.

We were in a campaign, so we asked our donors for $1966 annually or $157 monthly.

The amount equalled the year the organization began. Clever, right?

Guess what?

Clever doesn’t help turn first-time donors into long-term donors.

And while it’s often easier said than done, we needed a solution to help over 70% of donors who gave once but never returned to make their second gift.

Today, we’ll explore how stewardship acknowledges the donor's impact, involves them in your journey, and assures them of the significance of their role.

Stewardship At Its Core

In the ever-changing online world, donor stewardship continues to be the most essential part of the fundraising cycle.

It's more than acknowledging generosity—it's a process of nurturing your donors and building meaningful connections to ensure continued trust and support.

At its core, donor stewardship equals gratitude and respect toward those who support your mission.

It’s more than one thank-you note.

New Approaches to Online Stewardship

Online stewardship demands a thoughtful and personalized effort to leverage the digital landscape’s potential. These strategies can include:

Personalized acknowledgment helps express gratitude through personalized thank you emails, acknowledging your donor’s contribution and highlighting its impact. Use your donor’s name in emails and share the impact of their gift throughout the year.

Tailored communication shares stories that are important for your donors. Email newsletters, social media, and personalized updates inform donors about the organization’s progress, successes, and challenges. My favourite strategy includes telling stories about how donors made a particular project happen, highlighting the influence of their contributions.

Online engagement helps you create platforms for audience interaction—such as webinars, Q&A sessions, or live streams—to involve donors in your activities, allowing them to see their impact firsthand. Add monthly online conversations and invite your donors to join you.

Exclusive Content provides behind-the-scenes insights to make donors feel connected and appreciated, creating a sense of belonging to a community working towards a shared goal. Share an insider report for donors only.

Implement a Simple Strategy

A simple yet impactful strategy involves a three-step process:

  1. Automate Acknowledgment: Set up your CRM to send an immediate and personalized thank-you email upon donation. Ensure it’s not just a receipt but a heartfelt appreciation that underlines the difference their contribution will make.
  2. Ongoing Communication: Regularly update donors via email newsletters, social media, and personalized updates. Invite them to events, share success stories, and invite their feedback. The goal is to make them feel like an integral part of the journey, not just a debit machine.
  3. Recognition and Impact Sharing: Showcase the impact of their contributions through stories, statistics, and real-life examples. Recognize their role in driving change and express how their continued support can lead to more significant outcomes. Remember to share these stories on your website and distribute them to social media channels.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Despite best intentions, several missteps can hinder the stewardship process.

A generic, one-size-fits-all approach can alienate donors, failing to share genuine appreciation that helps them feel integral to the cause.

Additionally, overlooking consistent communication or the big one - only reaching out during fundraising initiatives might make your donor feel like your personal bank machine rather than one built on ongoing engagement.

Stewardship maintains the relationships you’ve worked hard for and fosters an enduring partnership and mutual appreciation.

Stewardship Remains Your Shining Star

A well-structured stewardship plan ensures donors feel valued and engaged throughout their experience with your organization.

The shining star of donor stewardship lies in creating relationships that extend past the transactional aspect of giving.

Remember, it’s still about fostering a sense of belonging with your donors. Ensure they feel important in the organization’s mission and that your organization is doing what they said they would with their investment.

By implementing these strategies, you’ll nurture your donor’s commitment and build a community of supporters dedicated to helping you create a lasting impact.

Because we move to a digital nonprofit does not mean forgetting the importance of stewardship in helping build stronger relationships with your online donors.

Ready to optimize your stewardship strategy? Let's chat! Hit reply or set up your first free meeting with me.

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Thank you for reading this far! You're awesome! ✌🏼

Your Digital Nonprofit: The Social Profit Stack

by Kelly Morris

Every other Sunday, I'll spark ⚡️your nonprofit's online fundraising strategy and deliver the tools you need to succeed. You'll receive an actionable tip and three links to drive donor engagement, deliver the best online experience for your donors, and raise more revenue. Join us!

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