Stewardship is... fundraising lingo for, thanking stakeholders.
Your event is over (don’t be sad) and now you need to begin executing your stewardship plan. But what exactly is Stewardship?
It is a must for maintaining, retaining and showing your appreciation to those who keep your organization moving forward and most of us, believe it or not are terrible at this – even as fundraisers.
Thanking donors may seem simple enough, but so many organizations are missing the mark or letting this simple – but important - task fall by the wayside. Stewardship is more than just “thank you” it is about being connected and personal with your donors.
Here is the Our Forté Events Cheat Sheet for donor stewardship:
Who: Rule of thumb, steward everyone! This includes your donors and sponsors – those who give cash and in-kind support, those who attend your events and those who volunteer their time. Thank your suppliers – without their expertise you wouldn’t be able to do what you do so well.
What: In what ways should you steward? Stewardship can include a thank you call or letter, a personal hand-written note or email. But what we really like is to make it more personal. Include birthday notes, religious celebration cards, drop ins, coffee dates and appreciation events.
Where: The method or platform you use for your stewardship needs to be targeted. Know who you are stewarding and how they want to be recognized. Host a committee thank you dinner for the social group, send a newsletter with the amount raised and impact made to your fund a need supporters, drop off your sponsorship fulfillment package in person, use social media or even send a cookie gram to a corporate team to enjoy together. End of the day – know your audience and connect with them in a meaningful way.
When: Stewardship is an ongoing process and should be built into your annual calendar – with reminders to trigger action! Post event Stewardship recommendations include: day after event thank you email with your net number announced, tax receipts, sponsorship fulfillment and other hand-written notes should be sent out within 2 weeks; a letter should be sent within 3-6 months to tell donors how their money is being used and then another letter should be sent in the 9-month range to let the donors know the impact they have made. By keeping donors in the loop throughout the year, it makes the next ask (ticket sales, sponsorship or fund a need appeal) seem like it’s not out-of-the-blue.
Why: You never want a stakeholder thinking you are only reaching out to them to “pitch” or “sell” them something with nothing in return. If you let them in as part of your organization’s community, they will be more receptive to supporting you during those important times and asks.
Be a fundraiser who includes, celebrates, raises funds and appreciates your supporters!