You’ve probably heard that donor stewardship is one of – if not the most – important parts of fundraising. Donor stewardship is the process of thanking and following up with donors after they have made a gift. It is also what helps increase the chances that they will stick around as donors for years to come.
There are many ways that you can steward donors. Thank you letters, special reports, newsletters, phone calls, and events are just a few of the options available. But what is more important than the option you choose is the content you use.
You see, not all donor stewardship content is created equal.
Just sending a thank you letter is not enough to improve donor relations and retention. If that were the case, our sector’s retention average would be significantly higher!
Donor stewardship content needs to inspire, demonstrate accountability, and show impact. Stories are the best way to accomplish these things.
Here are 3 ways that you can use stories to provide donors with better stewardship:
Idea #1 – Go beyond “your gift is making a difference” in thank you letters
I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of uninspiring thank you letters. I know I have. My biggest pet peeve with thank you letters is when there is a broad, general statement like, “your gift is making a difference,” or “you’re making an impact in the community.”
What’s the difference or the impact? Don’t just tell donors this. Tell them a story to give them deeper peek at their impact.
Idea #2 – Refresh your thank you call script for volunteers
If volunteers or board members help your organization make thank you calls to donors, be sure to refresh their script at least twice a year. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure that they are telling current, interesting stories of impact.
Alternatively, you can also empower your volunteers to tell their own story during the call.
Idea #3 – Rethink your event program
Spring is when many non-profits start planning fall events. Rather than having the same old boring speeches at your donor appreciation event, think about how you can make the event experiential for donors. Maybe you can recreate a common experience your clients have, or you could have a client share their story. This is a great way to make a story literally come to life for donors in a way that deepens their connection to your organization.
What stewardship does your organization typically provide to donors? How can you incorporate storytelling into one of your touch points? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Do you like what Vanessa has to say? Then register for her upcoming #DonorLove webinar! Vanessa will show you how to seamlessly incorporate stories into your non-profit’s stewardship touch points. You’ll learn how to use stories in impact reports and thank you letters. This webinar will discuss key ideas for telling stories that delight donors and helps them feel more connected to the work.
- Why stories are essential content for great stewardship
- 4 keys to telling a great story, plus the most important element every stewardship story must have
- How to tell a story in a thank you letter
- How to tell a story in an impact report
Steward Your Donors With Stories
With Vanessa Chase Lockshin
April 12th: 10:00 EST / 1:00 PST (You will also be sent the recording)
Recording Available April 23rd
Written by Vanessa Chase
Vanessa Chase is the President of The Storytelling Non-Profit – a consulting group that specializes in helping non-profits raise more money through communications. You can find out more about her and non-profit storytelling on her blog.