A donor just made a gift to support your organization, so what comes next? You may be asking yourself, “Now what happens? Should I ask for another gift? Surely there’s a better way than immediately following this gift by asking for another…”
Ding! Ding! Ding! You are correct. The secret to retaining a donor for a lifetime of support lies not in the gift itself but in what happens between each gift that matters most.
Effective stewardship and impact reporting leads to higher retention, less time and resources spent on acquiring new donors, and increased loyalty to your organization. Best practice says each donor should receive seven touchpoints between when a gift is made and the next time they are asked to give again. While seven touches may seem unattainable, you may be surprised at how many you already have in place. Let’s look at seven ways to show impact and steward each gift before asking for the next.
1. Gift Confirmation – This should be sent immediately after a gift is made and can be digital using Thank View or email. Use bright colors, pictures, and stories to highlight the impact of the gift and acknowledge/thank the donor for their support. We love the language on this confirmation page below.:
2. Tax receipt – A tax receipt includes the donor’s contact information and the gift amount. While this is primarily used for tax purposes, be sure to add an impact statement or quote showing the effects of private support on your organization. We love these two examples below.
3. Thank you note – A thank you is a must-have for every donor before asking for an additional gift. This can be digital, a postcard, or a letter that expresses your gratitude for the donor’s support. Be sure to include language of gratitude for the donor and leave out the gift amount.
4. Newsletter– Ask donors if they would like to receive your print or digital newsletter that provides stories of impact and progress at your organization, and make sure your newsletter highlights individuals who benefit directly from private support and the donors who make it possible. We love this Paws for News update from Paws With A Cause (we'll never be mad at an email full up pup pics! 😍)
5. An invitation to an event or tour of your space. Did you just open a new wing at your hospital? Perhaps it’s tailgate season and you are hosting a tailgate for donors to your organization. Help your donors feel included by asking them to attend an event sponsored by your organization. The invitations can be digital or printed, but be sure donors know why they are invited—because of their generous support. Maine Coast Heritage Trust does an amazing job of this!
6. Gratitude or Impact Video – one of the best ways you can highlight and thank a donor is through a video from someone who directly benefited from the donor’s support. Videos can be sent via text message, ThankView or email and should be sent within four months of the gift.
7. Impact of Gift Email – It has been six months since the donor made a gift to your organization, thus, enough time for their gift to make an impact on the lives of those you serve. This is your opportunity to share how their gift was used. We love these examples from our friends at Whitworth University and Ball State University.
8. BONUS TOUCHPOINT – A fun and creative holiday message from your organization! Birthdays, New Years, anniversaries, major holidays, and even made up holidays are a great opportunity for you to send your donors a meaningful message. This Mother's Day video from Maine Coast Heritage Trust is one of our all-time favorites!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to donor touchpoints you can incorporate into your donor relations and stewardship plan. A few other ideas include phone calls to thank donors, handwritten cards, holiday or special occasion communications and the list goes on. The more creative and personalized you can be, the better. This is your opportunity to show your donors how they are making a difference as well as reinforce that their support is vital to your organization.
We hope that these samples have helped to get your own creative juices going! What are some donor touchpoints you’ve incorporated in your stewardship plan? Please share them below.
By Holly Kizer