If there is one area of “moves management” that has never set well with me, it’s the word stewardship. Stewardship is what you are supposed to do with donors after they give you a gift. I don’t like it because it conveys a more passive approach to the relationship with your donor.
For instance, I’ve been working with an MGO who told me, “Oh, that donor is in stewardship mode right now, so I don’t have to worry about them.” Huh? Yes you do. If you’re ever going to ask for another gift, your approach with that donor needs to be strategic, focused and donor-centered.
I like to say that you are always in a cultivation mode with your donors. You’re always trying to build and deepen relationships, while providing opportunities for your donors to invest in your mission. There really is no time to be passive… especially after they have just given you a great gift.
So to give you some ideas this summer, here are 19 ways for you to cultivate your donors:
- Research each of your donors and find something unique about them.
- Update your donor data system with all of your donor communications, to allow you to know what you’ve done with each donor.
- Call three of your donors every day just to thank them for supporting the mission.
- Write five handwritten thank-you notes every day to donors on your caseload.
- Invite some of your donors to see your programs first-hand.
- Ask a donor to help you solve a problem.
- Know the hobbies of your donors, and use it to send the donor information about that hobby, telling them that you are thinking of them.
- Take your donor to a sporting or cultural event that you have tickets for.
- Figure out ways to get donors to see your mission, and arrange for them to have a visit.
- Help your donors pass on their giving legacy to their children: recommend ways to talk to their children about giving, along with a good consultant to advise the family about multi-generational giving.
- Ask a few of your donors to talk to your board about why they give, and why they love the organization.
- While they’re at it, ask your donors to give your Executive Director and board some solid critique of the organization and how it could be better.
- Look for connections in your donor portfolio where you could introduce donors to one another. Help your donors network with one another.
- Think of ways to foster business relationships between your donors, and arrange for meetings.
- Have the CEO or ED call each of your A-level donors at least once a year to thank them for giving.
- If you have a relationship with a celebrity or VIP, have that person call your top 10 donors or write a special note thanking them for being involved in your organization.
- Look for ways to honor your donors publicly in front of their peers (provided they will like it), and publicize it.
- Always acknowledge milestones in each donor’s life.
- Arrange for a program person to call your donor and give them a first-hand account of what an impact the donor is making on that program. Tell the donor she is a hero.
There you go – 19 ideas to proactively cultivate your donors so that you will continue to foster and deepen the relationship with them. With 150 donors on your caseload, there is no time to sit back and be passive. Hopefully, these 19 ideas will spark others as well.
Please feel free to share more cultivation ideas with the Passionate Giving community!
P.S. – Want to go further? Check out our free white paper on “The Art of Soliciting a Donor.”