Learn the most popular and effective donor retention tactics and maximise fundraising for your charity or non-profit. See ideas, examples, and top...
What is Donor Stewardship & How to Manage Relationships with Donors
Are you looking for an effective way of increasing donor retention and managing relationships with your supporters? Learn about donor stewardship!
Donor retention is a crucial fundraising aspect for charities and non-profit organisations that rely on financial support from private individuals. It indicates how many people donate to your organisation on a regular basis.
Did you know that the percentage of donors who give only once is 70%? This is why non-profits count on a variety of different donor retention strategies that help them encourage supporters to donate regularly, contributing to the charity’s mission and projects. However, donor retention can be a task much more difficult than it initially seems. This is where donor stewardship comes into play.
What is donor stewardship?
Donor stewardship is a vital post-gift interaction aimed at nurturing and strengthening the relationship with contributors. Its primary objective is to cultivate a sense of inspiration and encourage recurring contributions. By fostering a deep connection with donors, non-profit organisations can instil a profound sense of loyalty, fostering a supportive community that paves the way for future fundraising success. When done right, donor stewardship can result in positive word-of-mouth recommendations, resulting in more potential donors discovering your non-profit organisation.
In this blog post, we take a look at how charities can steward donors and therefore acquire more recurring donations for their good cause.
How to approach donor stewardship
During the pandemic and financial downturns that followed as a result, charities saw a significant drop in contributions from the public. However, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, organisations that strengthened their relationships with their community or simply stayed in touch with donors during times of uncertainty saw a quicker and more successful recovery in donations after the pandemic.
Many non-profit organisations segment donors on how much they donate to their cause. However, this is not always the best idea as some people can afford to only donate $10 while others contribute $100 or more. Therefore some donors see their $10 the way others see their $100. Hence, instead of segmenting donors on how much they’ve donated to your organisation, segment them based on the type of donor they are:
- New donors: First-time supporters.
- Newly retained donors: They gave recently for the first time and gave again after a few weeks or months.
- Repeat donors: They have been donating for multiple years in a row.
- Recaptured donors: They skipped a year or two but are supporting your cause again.
By segmenting supporters based on the type of donor they are, you will be able to strengthen your relationship and improve their trust and loyalty to your organisation. Stewarding different types of donors is an excellent way to retain them since their relationship with you is different. For example, you cannot treat new donors the same way you treat someone who’s been supporting your charity for five or ten years. Obviously, it’s crucial to thank all supporters for their contributions but it’s also essential to run specific campaigns for different donor segments.
How can charities steward donors?
Let’s take a look at different donor stewardship strategies that non-profits can implement into their donor retention strategy.
New donors: first-time financial contributors to your organisation
- Send personalised welcome packages: Personalised welcome packages sent to new donors can include a heartfelt thank-you letter, information about your organisation's mission and impact, and a small token of appreciation like a branded pen or keychain. It’s a small gesture that can have a great impact on their trust and loyalty.
- New donor orientation call: Reach out to new donors with a phone call to express gratitude, answer any questions they may have, and provide more insights into how their contribution will make a difference. You can also inform them about other ways they can support your non-profit, for example, by following your social media accounts or volunteering at your next fundraising event.
- Impact update: Within a few months of their initial donation, share an impact update with new donors, showcasing the specific projects or initiatives their support has helped to fund. Indicate the impact their further support can have.
Newly retained donors: they gave recently for the first time and gave again after a few weeks or months
- Welcome back message: Send a warm "welcome back" message to acknowledge and celebrate their decision to donate again. Express how much their continued support means to the organisation and the project you work on.
- Exclusive newsletter subscription: Offer newly retained donors an exclusive newsletter subscription that provides deeper insights into the organisation's work and upcoming projects. Make them feel like they are part of an insider community.
- Personalised thank-you call: For donors who return within a short period, consider making a personalised thank-you call to express gratitude and highlight the impact of their recent contributions. Keep them up to date with upcoming events and campaigns.
Repeat donors: they have been donating for multiple years in a row
- Donor appreciation event: Host an annual donor appreciation event to recognise and celebrate the contributions of long-time supporters. Invite them to an exclusive gathering where they can meet the team, beneficiaries, and other committed donors.
- Milestone recognition: Acknowledge significant milestones in their giving journey, such as their 5th or 10th year of support, with a personalised thank-you letter and a small token of appreciation, like a commemorative plaque or a tree planted in their name.
- Personalised video message: Create a personalised video message from the organisation's founder or CEO, expressing gratitude and sharing how their consistent support has contributed to the organisation's growth and success.
Recaptured donors: they skipped a year or two but are back supporting your cause again
- Re-engagement email series: Develop a targeted email series specifically for recaptured donors, highlighting the organisation's recent achievements and emphasizing the impact of their renewed support.
- Phone call follow-up: After the first donation from a recaptured donor, make a phone call to express sincere appreciation for their return and to inquire about their interest in getting involved further.
- Impact report: Provide a detailed impact report to recaptured donors, showcasing the positive changes and progress that have occurred during their absence and emphasising the importance of their renewed commitment to the cause.
How to reengage donors?
You definitely know how difficult it is to acquire new donors. The people who don’t open your emails or engage with your marketing campaigns are not very likely to contribute to your mission of good making. But we suggest you treat donor retention as your growth strategy. Just think about it!
Reengaging donors who financially supported your organisation two, four, or five years ago is easier than reaching out to new prospects. Focus on the people who already donated to your charity and identify with its cause. Why? Because it’s much easier to encourage someone who already knows what your organisation is doing and why it’s meaningful rather than someone who doesn’t know your non-profit to donate.
So when’s the best time to reengage donors?
The best time to intervene is when your donor’s engagement is still right at the top so right after their donation. Waiting for their engagement to drop means you’re setting yourself up for the harder task of bringing it back up. Therefore, engaging in stewardship prior to your next ask is the wise option.
All you have to do is understand why your donors are donating and what motivates them to keep doing good. Using one of the stewardship strategies we shared in one of the previous sections would be the best way to reengage them and foster your relationship with the donors.
Make it easy to donate!
One way to ensure that your donors will continue to support your cause is to offer a positive donor experience and make the donation process easy! Ensure you opt for seamless payment solutions that make recurring payments pretty straightforward. For example, when using Waytobill’s checkout or fundraising plugins, you get to deliver a positive user experience and make the process quick and efficient, offering donor recurring payment methods like Digital Autogiro or AvtaleGiro (Swedish and Norwegian direct debit).
Would you like to find out more about how payment solutions affect donor conversion and retention? Make sure to contact us to get more information or get started with seamless payments!