3 Stewardship Tools to Deepen Donor Relationships in 2015

Building on last week’s post about how to prioritize stewardship in 2015, here are a few quick thoughts on three stewardship tools you might consider to help keep your donors involved.

Donor Surveys


I mentioned donor surveys in a post earlier this month – they are simply a fantastic way to learn more about your donors’ demographics, philanthropic motivations and preferred modes of communication. If you haven’t yet ventured into donor-survey-land, now is a great time to start!

It’s easy and you’ll gain valuable information to help shape almost every facet of your fundraising program. Check out these resources for more info on donor surveys:

  1. Building Donor Loyalty by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay – A masterful book on how to retain your donors, it includes sample donor survey questions.
  2. Google “donor surveys” and you will uncover some nonprofits’ actual surveys as well as helpful posts like this 3-parter where Jonathon Grapsas shares a sample survey and lots of other advice on the types of questions to ask.

Bring Back the Annual Report!

For all but the largest nonprofits, the days of printing a 50 page 4-color glossy annual report are over. But don’t ditch annual reporting altogether. At its best, an annual report is a tool for telling stories, and sharing your organization’s impact. Creative nonprofits with shoestring budgets produce some of the snappiest one or two page annual reports in-house using great photos and well-honed text and infographics. 

Remember that timing matters with annual reports. Distribute yours at a time of year that makes sense for your donor. Perhaps at the end of your fiscal year, or when you’re meeting with your donor, or on the one-year anniversary of your donor’s involvement with your organization. Or choose a time that’s significant for your donor.

Online Stewardship

Last month, here in Colorado, donors across the state contributed over $26 million in online donations during Colorado Gives Day, a 27 percent increase over Colorado Gives Day 2013. That’s a lot of online philanthropy! And nationally, #GivingTuesday also saw increased online giving over the previous year.

Just as we are asking for (and receiving) more donations online, understand that there is a place for online stewardship, too. A concise, friendly auto-response (free of typos) reassures donors who contribute through your website that their donation has been received. (For best donor relations, follow up the auto-response with a more personal and “real” thank you letter.)

A donor section of your website can provide your donors with answers to FAQs and an opportunity to give you feedback. And social media provides nearly limitless (and affordable!) opportunities to steward your donors effectively! Check out these examples of social media stewardship to help trigger ideas for your nonprofit.

Which other stewardship ideas might you try in 2015? Share your ideas in the Comments box below. 

Special gift for you:  My step-by-step guide, Conquer Your Fear of Asking for Money, is available here (click)