Thank You, May We Have Another?
The final instalment for the Institute of Fundraising Scotland’s month-long blog series on Major Gifts, by Rory Green, aka Fundraiser Grrl.
So you’ve done it – you have secured a major gift! Good for you!
Many charities make the mistake of thinking that once the cheque is in hand, they should move on to finding other prospects. That is a huge mistake. You current donors are your best prospects for future campaigns, and need to be treated well.
Remember – good stewardship is also cultivation for the next gift.
So, what makes for great major gifts stewardship? Here are some tips and tricks to help take your stewardship to the next level:
Don’t assume: Sit down with your donor and have a conversation about why they made the gift. You may think you know the answer, but giving them a chance to tell you can help give you great information about how to steward them.
Make a plan and write it down: Plan out stewardship of the gift, the way you make a cultivation plan. When will the money be spent? When will people start benefiting from the gift? When will you report back? When will stewardship events take place? Make a plan for how the gift will be acknowledged and how the donor will be stewarded, and record this in your database.
Make it personal: There is no one size fits all for stewardship. Hermione (link to blog) may prefer long written reports. The busy Dr. Who (link to blog) may want short snappy updates via e-mail. Aragorn (link to blog) may want bi-annual lunches with the CEO. Merry and Pippin (link to blog) may want to come see your progress with a site tour.
Tell stories: Put a personal face on their giving by telling the real life stories of the people who are benefiting from their generosity.
Show impact and progress towards the goal: Be sure to communicate how their gift is getting you closer to achieving your mutual vision. Sharing impact stories or markers of progress help the donor understand the difference their gift has made.
Say thank you lots, and in different ways: Stewardship is best when applied liberally. Try sending messages of thanks different ways (hand written letters, reports, e-mails, meetings, phone calls) to make sure your donor is hearing you loud and clear.
Give the donor credit: Always remember, this good work is possible because of the DONOR’S generosity. Don’t take all of the credit. Tell your donors how awesome they are!
Surprise and delight: Don’t be afraid to be silly and joyful when celebrating their gift. Go outside the box and do something special that your donor will remember.
So go forth and THANK your donors! Great stewardship is the first step to their next gift.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” - William Arthur Ward