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Fundraising 101 Fundraising Plans

5 Ways to Improve Your Stewardship & Achieve Your Best Year-End Yet

Year-end is approaching, and that means every fundraising team has one focus in mind: bringing in as many donations as possible. We all know the statistics about why year-end is so important and what percentage of people make their gifts in December, and it creates a type of fundraising frenzy. 

Although it can be tempting to start sending out asks left and right, this year, I want to encourage you to lead with stewardship. 

Why? Because it’s easier and more cost-effective to steward current donors than to bring in new donors. And donors can feel when your communication is authentic. Stewardship that is personalized, authentic, and appropriately segmented year-round will go much further than sending a bunch of emails to your entire list. 

And the great thing about stewardship is, you can start right away. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way! 

Here are my 5 recommendations for personalizing stewardship so your organization can hit your year-end goal: 

  1. Segment your donor communications. Instead of sending the same version of all communications to each donor, you should segment and personalize based on their giving level or their personal connection to your work. The key to personalization is strong record-keeping and database maintenance. Some segmentations that might be helpful for year-end might be: donors who made their first gift this year, lapsed donors, and volunteers.  
  1. Create surveys to gather data about your donors. How do your donors like to be communicated with? What programs are they most passionate about? Why do they give? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, it’s worth asking. 
  1. Recognize giving milestones. Create a specific new donor track for first-time donations. Send out a special packet or thank you card at their one year “donorversary.” If you’re lucky enough to have donors who have been giving for 15 or 20 years, acknowledge and celebrate that! 
  1. Create opportunities to reach out and engage donors. Donors shouldn’t only hear from you after making a gift. Your team could send handwritten cards on birthdays, invite donors to volunteer, or send out an update on the program their gift supported a few months later. 
  1. Never stop getting to know your donors. Maybe a donor mentions over coffee that they are interested in ballet, and you see an upcoming show that might appeal to them. Sending a quick email will show that you listened and value them as a holistic person, not just a checkbook. Any knowledge you can gather that strengthens the relationship will lead to more loyal donors and increased giving.  

For a deeper dive into today’s topic, make sure you download our freebie, a year-end stewardship checklist that walks you through implementing each recommendation on this list. You won’t want to miss it!

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