Tag Archives: StrategicDonorRelationships

Craft Your Major Donor Stewardship Strategy

A few years ago I wrote an article, “What Would You Do With 1,000 New Donors?”I think this is the time to write a follow up. The more I talk to people now the more I start to question what would you do with 10 new major donors? Or even five.

Everyone wants more major donors. And everyone talks about wanting additional major donors.

Many organizations now use technology to uncover prospective major donors from their current list. But I have realized that if you are not at a large nonprofit with staff dedicated to stewardship like a university or hospital, you might not know what do with those new major donors.

I don’t mean the money, I’m sure you have 15 ways that you could spend it. I mean the stewardship plan. How would you keep in touch with those five people?

Would you send different or additional acknowledgements to those new major donors? Would they get a personal call from someone? Who would that be? Do you have a way to track their interests and send them articles that may interest them? Or personally invite them to an event?

Are you thinking something like:

  • “We will cross that bridge when we get to it.” 
  • “From your mouth to God’s ear.” 
  • “I don’t know, but I’d like to find out.” 

You are not alone. But those responses are all indicators that you are not stewarding the donors you already have. And that you have probably squandered more than one potential donor in the past.

You should have an acknowledgement and stewardship plan for each type of donor you have and whom you hope to have.

  • Will someone who gives $1,000 or $10,000 get a phone call from the President of the board? A handwritten note from the Executive Director? An offer for lunch from the senior development professional?
  • Did the donor that just told you they put you into their estate plan receive a special thank you note or additional recognition somewhere?
  • If someone told you their friend — also a donor to the nonprofit — was talking about a prospective donation — would you reach out? Would you know what to say?

While you can cross that bridge when you get to it, your excitement may overshadow the work that has to be done to gain that donor. The conversation of where and when to announce the huge gift(s) and how to tell every board member takes over. And that can lead to a lack of stewardship for the donor. And that, in turn, leads to fewer gift renewals.

Here is the advice. Plan ahead with a formal, disciplined, detailed stewardship plan. And if you would like counsel on how to create your stewardship plan, sign up for a free, 30-minute consultation. Our goal at MJA is to make sure you are prepared for an $18 or a $1,000,000 gift.