This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
4 Stewardship Tips for January
Depending on your fiscal year-end, it’s likely that you are doing one of two things this week: analyzing the year-end, or analyzing the first half of the year and reestablishing focus to achieve your goals. But too much analysis can prevent you from taking action.
That’s why I’m going to walk you through four stewardship tips you can take action on, today.
4 Stewardship Tips for January:
Calendar year-end giving can feel like a marathon. That’s why I like to double-check that each of my returning donors receives a personalized thank you for their 2020 gift(s). Nothing feels worse than when a relationship sours from a lack of personal stewardship. At the same time that I run my checklist, I also look to see if my donor increased giving in the last calendar year and add a special acknowledgment in my note or phone call to the donor.
- Phone Calls for Decreased Giving
When donors decrease giving from one year to the next, it’s a perfect time to pick up the phone. Not only can you call to thank the donor for their support, but you can also simply check-in on them for an update on their circumstances. As a fundraiser, this is typically when I would find out if a donor was going through a medical crisis in the family, lost a job, or was supporting a relative financially.
The information you gather can perhaps develop a strategy to cultivate and steward the donor back to the previous giving level, or even an increased level. On the other hand, the donor’s situation may prevent a return to a higher giving level at this time, which you can accurately reflect in your pipeline.
- Special Attention for First-Time and Lapsed Donors
First-time and lapsed donors who gave a gift again in 2020 should all receive special attention. Sure, they will all receive a canned acknowledgment letter, but go beyond that to establish (or re-establish) a personal connection. Whether you connect via email, phone, or a letter, include direct language about their status as a first-time or returning lapsed donor. Show enthusiasm for their contribution and let them know you want to build the relationship from here.
- Prepare for an impact in February
Every January, I would run a list of the single people in my donor database. I found that people who are single, divorced, separated, or widowed generally appreciate someone sending them an acknowledgment around Valentine’s Day. Some donors who I worked with said it was the only card or gift they received since their spouse passed away. Don’t let your donors be forgotten – show them your empathetic side.
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