The Key Takeaway from This Week’s #fundchat on Donor Stewardship

Do you #tweetchat? I absolutely love tweet chats because they’re a way to get to know other people in the industry, share ideas and get inspired by others’ work! One of my favorite TweetChats of the week is #fundchat, where nonprofit professionals come together to discuss a variety of topics related to nonprofit fundraising. (For a list of StayClassy’s other favorite tweet chats, visit here).

This week’s topic was stewardship. It was such a fun and insightful conversation that encompassed a number of important points, including donor engagement, retention, delight and thank yous. I was excited to learn all about how organizations were succeeding with their stewardship plans and how they were communicating with donors.

The Key Takeaway from #FundChat

Making time for stewardship is hard, stewardship is hard, and we don’t have a plan.

I was a little surprised by a couple things:

1. How many organizations didn’t have a stewardship plan
2. How few talked about digital means to say thank you, stay in touch or otherwise communicate gratitude and impact with donors

Maybe my “Millennialism” has left me helplessly married to the Internet – in love with e-mail, blogging or social media – but I truly believe one of the incredible powers of the web is that it has granted us efficiencies in otherwise mundane, difficult tasks. Instead of going to the post office, we can send an e-mail. Instead of renting out a costly billboard, we can build an entire site dedicated to our message. I can hardly use the excuse that “I don’t have time” for most of my errands because, at least half the time, I can do everything from fill out a DMV form to craft an email campaign for work with a laptop and WiFi connection.

Of course, I understand that organizations can vary greatly and following up may depend on your donor base and type of cause work. Some stewardship activities clearly will take more time and resources than others and depend on the organization. Regardless, every staff member at your organization can and should be a stewardship hero.

There’s always a chance to make an awesome, “WOW” impression, and it doesn’t have to be too time-consuming or expensive. Whether someone is responding to emails in a timely, friendly manner, conversing with supporters on social media or writing impact stories for your blog, every action that touches a site visitor or supporter can demonstrate gratitude.

Delight donors at every turn and communicate how important their support is to your cause and the work your organization is doing. Even these small touches can go a long way.

Here are the questions from this week’s chat with some answers I found particularly interesting:

1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the ‘highest priority’), how important is stewardship to your organization and why?

2. What is your ratio of ask vs. non-ask communication with donors? Does it matter?

3. Does your organization have a stewardship plan? What are the key elements in any plan?

4. Aside from standard “thank you” letters, how does your organization recognize and thank donors?

5. Stewardship always seems to fall to the bottom of the list. If it’s so important how do you make time for it?

You can also access the full transcript:

Mark Your Calendar: The next #fundchat will be Wednesday, August 13 at 9 AM PST.

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Image Credit: Austin Ban

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