Retain Donors Through Effective Stewardship

Retain Donors Through Effective Stewardship

Retaining donors is one of the most difficult initiatives for a fundraiser to do. With more organizations asking people to support their cause or mission, there has never been a more important time to optimize donor retention strategies. One strategy that helps with donor retention is stewardship.

Instilled in people from such a young age is the concept of saying, “Thank you.” How many times have you, or someone you know, given a child something and the adult with them says, “What do you say?” and they look at you and say, “Thank you!” Probably countless times! Being a fundraising professional should encourage you to use this phrase now more than ever. Simply thanking donors and showing the impact of their donation can go an extremely long way.

Stewardship is a vital part of an annual giving plan as it helps you retain donors – if it’s not a significant piece of your plan now, this is something that you should take into deep consideration for the future.

Here are 5 stewardship tips to help retain donors:

  1. SIMPLY SAY, “THANK YOU.” A thank you can go a long way. It makes people feel that they are appreciated and when they feel appreciated, they will start to build a loyalty and sense of pride to your organization. Saying, “Thank you,” through all different platforms is a great way to show your donors how much you appreciate them.
  2. SHOW THE DONOR HIS/HER IMPACT. Infographics are a great visual tool to show donors how they made an impact. By associating the contribution – whether it be a dollar amount, time, or other resource – to the exact area(s) it impacted, people are able to say, “I helped make that happen!” Without your donors, it is impossible to reach your goals. So, when they donate, show them what they did and how they helped make the organization better.
  3. PERSONALIZE THE THANK YOU. Personalization helps build a bond between you and the donor. It makes them feel that they are special and unique. Yes, most occasions and initiatives call for individuals to receive the same designed piece. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t able to personalize or segment it. Data segmentation and personalization enable you to target your donor or donor segments. For instance, you can have different variations of the stewardship piece, with personalization, if you segment donors by areas they contributed to.
  4. DON’T JUST WAIT UNTIL YOUR FYE. Have you ever thought about incorporating a stewardship campaign into your annual direct marketing plan? You might want to consider how many times per year you are currently thanking donors and how many times you could be thanking donors. Is it once a year? Twice a year? After each time they donate? You can never thank donors too much. Wondering some ways that you can thank your donors? Some clients thank their donors through designed postcards, letters, self-mailers, or other creative direct mail pieces. Connect with us to view samples.
  5. IF YOU ASK THROUGH A CHANNEL, THANK THROUGH THAT CHANNEL. There are many different channels nowadays where donors can be reached. If you ask through a particular channel, you should thank through that channel. For example, if you are sending your donors asks through direct mail, and they expect to hear from you through direct mail, then you should send a thank you through direct mail.

Interested in seeing samples of stewardship pieces?

To sum it all up, stewardship is critical to success. You did so much work identifying and acquiring your donors, you can’t forget one of the most important parts – retaining your donors. By thanking your donors, you’re one step closer to retaining them. They’ll feel like they made an actual impact as they start to build or continue to build an affinity to your organization.

BCG Connect helps clients to identify, acquire, AND retain donors through effective annual direct marketing plans. If you need help implementing stewardship pieces into your plan, or would like to talk about different direct marketing ideas for your organziation to effectively identify, acquire, and retain your donors, connect with us to learn more!

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BCG Staff Writer
Ugly Betty Giving Day History Table

Ugly Betty is Definitely Not Ugly

To most of the world, “Ugly Betty” was the name of an ABC original TV series starring America Ferrera. However, in the world of fundraising professionals, an ugly betty is an effective way to renew gifts from prior donors using a very direct, invoice-style approach. Fundraising appeals can vary in style – from creative self-mailers and postcards, to standard letters and invoice-style appeals – and they are used for various reasons.

A common misconception of an ugly betty is that it is indeed ugly. This is not the case! An ugly betty is simply an invoice-style appeal so, although it may not include many photos, there are plenty of creative elements that can be incorporated.

What’s so effective about an ugly betty? If you look at all of the mail that you get throughout the year and you see the piece of mail that looks like it may be an invoice or some sort of bill, it is often that it will be one of the first pieces that you open or set aside to open. It is an instinct to pull out the “more important” looking pieces to make sure that you don’t miss any official documents.

You might ask, “Why wouldn’t every appeal be an invoice style then?” If every appeal were an invoice style, you would reduce the effectiveness of why the concept of an ugly betty was created. Many organizations send ugly betties towards the end of their fiscal year to try to capture those prior donors that haven’t given yet.

Here are 3 components of an ugly betty to take into consideration:

CREATIVE: An ugly betty at one point in time might have lived up to the name, but these invoice-style appeals most definitely do not need to be ugly. Yes, there may not be many photos on the appeal, but there are certainly different creative elements that help with the effectiveness of the piece. The simplicity of an invoice-style appeal emphasizes prior giving, lack of giving this fiscal year, and has a strong call-to-action of donating.

ENVELOPE: How do you know when you get a bill in the mail? There is usually a special type of envelope. Whether it is a window envelope, or it has messaging on the envelope, it’s important to entice your donors to open your direct mail piece.

DATA SEGMENTATION: Organizations often have an immense amount of data. It’s important that you use it! When data and direct mail align, there are endless possibilities. Data is a critical component to an effective ugly betty. It helps with showcasing the donor’s history and know the appropriate level ask to do. For example, including a chart that shows that Donor A has given $25 in 2015, 2016, 2017, and has yet to give in 2018, it would be appropriate to include an ask that has $25 as an option as opposed to $1,000.

Interested in seeing samples of creative invoice-style appeals?

BCG Connect works with fundraising professionals to implement creative direct marketing solutions into their annual giving campaigns. By sharing new marketing and fundraising information, BCG Connect helps clients identify, acquire and retain their donors.

Have you incorporated and personalized ugly betties to optimize your annual giving direct marketing plan? Connect with us to learn more and request samples of these invoice-style appeals!

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Sign up to be notified when we publish new blogs and send out our newsletter full of helpful tips, tricks, and advice to supercharge your marketing.

BCG Staff Writer