Why You Should Stop Looking for New Donors


Nonprofits spend too much time looking for new donors. There, I’ve said it. 

And you’re probably thinking, “Don’t we need new donors to raise more money?” Well sure, you need some new donors to offset donor attrition. But don’t spend so much time on donor acquisition that there’s no time left to steward your current donors.  Here’s why:

New donor acquisition is expensive.

You’ve probably heard that it costs less to keep your existing donors than to find new donors. Identifying, cultivating and soliciting new donors for your organization is expensive. You can get an idea of donor acquisition costs here

Prioritizing stewardship lets you save on new donor acquisition costs and make the most of the donor relationships you already have. This is a more efficient use of the resources your organization spends on fundraising. 

Fundraising is a cycle. 

Stewardship, in the fundraising cycle, occurs after a donor has contributed to your organization and before you ask them for another gift. In most visual depictions of fundraising, you see a circle. If you skip the stewardship step in fundraising, the whole circular process collapses. Or maybe it limps along at about 50% efficiency, not nearly as great as it could be. 

Because each step of the fundraising cycle depends on what came before it and what comes next, you must find a way to maintain the health of all your pieces. Don’t jeopardize your chances for significant gifts and lasting donor relationships by short-cutting the key step of stewardship.

Good stewardship boosts donor retention rates.

Collectively, nonprofits stink at donor retention. Experts attribute low donor retention rates to the poor job we do stewarding donors. Stewardship should be happening between asks in the fundraising cycle. 

Here, you are thanking your donor, communicating the impact of their gift, personally interacting with them, and generally solidifying and deepening the relationship between your donor and your organization. 

Going from ask to ask without any donor touch-points in between is a recipe for donor retention disaster. 

Stewardship is your long game.

Ever heard the term “long game?” Stewardship is your long game, meaning it’s a long-term strategy that doesn’t offer an immediate payoff. Stewardship is about maintaining your donor pipeline. 

If you don’t have a pipeline, you’ll be starting over every year, trying to find new donors and new donations to meet your goal. This is an exhausting way to work and an easy way to burn out. Do yourself a favor and create even the simplest stewardship plan that will help you see the forest for the trees.

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

What other payoffs have you realized by prioritizing stewardship? Please share in the Comments box below!