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How to Create a Giving Day Stewardship Plan That Will Make Donors Excited to Give Again

Blog title image with plant growing out of a stack of coins with a green overlay and the blog title: How to Create a Giving Day Stewardship Plan That Will Make Donors Excited to Give Again

So much goes into your organization's Giving Day, but what’s the point of obtaining hundreds or even thousands of new donors if you can’t retain them? Giving Day stewardship should be thoughtful, organized, and intentional. How you acknowledge donors who participate in Giving Day is just as important as inspiring donors to give in the first place. Below is a quick guide to developing an engaging stewardship plan to inspire your Giving Day donors to give again–year after year. 


First, let’s explore the timeline of when to develop your Giving Day stewardship plan and what should be included. A plan is much more than ideas; it should provide the framework for communicating gratitude and impact to giving day donors during the event and throughout the year. 


  • Develop your plan 4-6 months in advance.

  • Strategically plan for priority audiences and high-risk APR segments (more on this in a moment).

  • Pre-build communications templates and collateral.

  • Establish clear responsibilities and roles between central and college/unit-based teams.

  • Develop a specific timeline of deliverables (day-of plan, day after, one week after, one year after, etc.).


Here is a sample plan to get you started. Remember to be e creative and employ different types of touches including email, social media, print, and video. 

Giving Day Stewardship Timeline chart detailing a 12 month plan for communicating with Giving Day donors.

Pre-Built Communications Collateral

Have you found yourself scrambling to write the perfect tweet or social media post in a tight time crunch? Giving Day is often frenetic, so preparing assets in advance will help your plan run seamlessly. Scripting and designing/printing the below communications pieces in advance will go a long way toward ensuring your Giving Day stewardship plan stays on-message, timely, and shows impact. Here is a list of Giving Day collateral to develop in advance: 


  • ThankView scripts for individual and milestone videos, such as:

    • Managed prospects

    • $500+ donors

    • 5,000th donor of the day

    • Donors who committed a large amount to be counted on Giving Day

    • Donors who committed to a match gift for Giving Day

  • Pre-recorded ThankView Videos for recognition society members and other non-personalized large groups

  • Postcards 

  • Post-event impact email and video

  • Tax receipt template

  • Acknowledgment templates

  • Twitter and Social Media Content Bank


The key to remember is that your stewardship plan should be part of your overall Giving Day plan. It should be developed four to six months in advance of your Giving Day and focus on high-risk APR segments. Retaining these hard-to-reach donor segments is just as important as initially obtaining these donors. We recommend that you develop your plan with all teams involved—donor relations, annual giving, communications, etc.—to ensure each team is onboard with the plan and able to offer their expertise. 

If you need some help creating your pre-built communications, check out our Giving Day Stewardship In-A-Box. This step-by-step plan includes sample language and suggested timelines that will help you connect Giving Day donors with their generosity and deepen ties to your organization.


Donor Retention Segmentation 

Each Giving Day, focus on developing a strategy for one impact APR/donor retention segment. Examples to focus on include:


  • First-time donors

  • Donors who made their first gift on Giving Day last year

  • Faculty and Staff donors

  • Student donors

  • Three-, four-, and five-year donors


You can also focus on enhancing recognition programs such as planned giving donors. By sending segmented and targeted emails to these groups, you are showing donors you noticed their preferences and behaviors. 


Develop a Campus Partner Toolkit

Enlist all teams and units to take part in Giving Day stewardship by assigning specific roles and responsibilities that supplement the central team’s work. One helpful tool is a Partner Toolkit that contains communication collateral for Giving Day. Some examples of duties for other units to manage, and sample items to include in the toolkit are listed below:


  • Sample social media posts/images and graphics

  • Thank you note and envelope design files/email templates

  • Future impact reporting ideas

  • Sample thank you/acknowledgment letter wording

  • Ideas for personalized engagement of matching gift donors

  • Customizable thank you postcard template


Giving Day Retention Statistics 

After a year of ensuring your Giving Day donors are thanked, shown impact, and recognized, it's important to measure the impact of your stewardship plan and strategy. The success of your Giving Day can be measured by more than just the total number of dollars raised or overall donor participation rate. Giving Day stewardship metrics are just as valuable in measuring the success of meeting your fundraising goals. It’s vital to evaluate the impact of your donor relations plan using the metrics below to make certain Leadership sees the impact of your work:


  • First time donor retention year over year

  • Overall donor retention year over year

  • Alumni donor retention year over year

  • Additional gifts within one year from Giving Day donors

  • Number of donor touchpoints/tiered based on giving behavior or level

  • Communication statistics (open rate, click through rate, download, response, etc.)


Giving Day is an opportunity for our donors to be part of the collective impact that is greater than a single gift. The story you tell of impact, inspiration, and giving will lead to your Giving Day donors feeling appreciated. They will see how their gift, when combined with others, makes a significant  impact on the organization.

Looking for more Giving Day resources?

Learn how to develop your personalized Giving Day stewardship plan with Giving Day Stewardship Course—our comprehensive, on-demand program taught by Lynne Wester.


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