“What types of communications are most effective for stewarding major donors?”
That’s the question Jeff and I were recently asked.
The answer is surprisingly simple:

  • Communication media that match the preferences of the donor. What has your donor told you about how she prefers to be communicated with? Did she say email? Then email is how you talk to her. Did she say the phone? Then call her. Several donors we know just want to communicate via text. So, the MGO just texts back and forth. The donor will tell you how she prefers to be communicated with. Just ask her.
  • Communication content that matches the passions and interests of the donor. OK, so now you’ve settled HOW you’re going to communicate with your donor. The content decision is very straightforward. What are the passions and interests of the donor? What program category in your organization best fits those passions and interests? Answer those two questions and you have the answer on what your communication content needs to be. Remember, a donor won’t talk to you or engage in any way unless you have something of value to share with them. And value is what THEY are interested in, NOT what you and your organization need from the donor.

If you want to steward, keep making sure your donor stays engaged with you in ever-increasing ways, then pay attention to the two things above. And every time you get ready to communicate with your donor – before you make that phone call, before you have the video call, before you write that email or that letter or send that text – before you do anything like that, ask yourself:

  1. Am I communicating with this donor the way THEY want me to communicate with them?
  2. Am I talking about things that THEY are interested in? (Tweet it!)

If there is a lingering “no” to either of those questions, do NOT send your communication. Start over and get ready properly. You know what to do.