How to Turn Nonprofit Stewardship into a 5-star Donor Experience

November 29, 2021
5 minutes
A golden badge embellished with golden leaves on each side sits front and center on a red-to-black ombre background. The badge has 5 stars on the outside and a heart in the middle. On the bottom is a banner that says "Thank You".

Your big fundraising campaign has wrapped up and all you want to do is sit back, plan, and gear up for the road ahead. But there’s important wrap-up work to be done—welcoming new donors and thanking repeat donors that gave to your splashy campaign.

You might have sent these donors thank you letters or emails, maybe you even made some follow-up phone calls. If you want to guarantee a spot in your donors' giving budget, though, you need to create a warm, welcoming experience for donors, and that goes beyond these basics. Let’s explore some next-level tactics for creating a 5-star donor experience.

Serve up stewardship ads

Facebook ads for donations can ring up a high price tag—maybe that’s why your nonprofit has shied away from them. But there are more uses for ads than just donor and donation acquisition. Stewardship! Yes, serving stewardship content ads to donors is a great use for ads. It’s a cost-effective way to garner thousands of impressions on your content and it’s an easy way to get your message in front of donors who already recognize you.

Facebook Ads Manager allows you to upload custom lists for ad audiences. Upload a list of your donors to best target this type of ad.

If you want to get a little fancy with your ads, try testing a video ad against a photo + text ad. But pro-tip: don’t run them at the same time to the same audience 'cause you’ll just end up bidding up the costs of your ads.

Think: Surprise and Delight

My basic guiding principle for donor stewardship is surprise and delight. I want donors to feel exceedingly satisfied with their decision to give because of the follow-up they receive in the days and months after making their gift.

For example, looking past January year-end follow-ups, Valentine’s Day is a fun opportunity for stewardship that surprises and delights. Here are 4 Ways to Thank Your Donors on Valentine’s Day.  

Consider other holidays, awareness days, and cultural happenings throughout the year, and get creative with how your nonprofit can tap into them for a great donor stewardship moment.

Add value to your donors’ lives

Great relationships are built on reciprocity. Sure, your donors can make a donation and your nonprofit can thank them. Cool. But go beyond basic stewardship by thinking about how your organization can add value to donors’ lives. It’s a non-traditional approach to stewardship, but it’s absolutely a strategy that helps you build relationships and creates that 5-star new donor experience.

Your nonprofit likely has expertise in some issue area (or areas). While you may use that expertise to serve a very specific portion of the population, there may be ways to share that expertise with your donors so they can apply it in new ways to their lives.

A great example of this is a nonprofit that runs early childhood education programs. They're experts in childhood development, meaning they have all kinds of activities up their sleeves for their programs. These are activities that the average parent might be interested in learning about for their own kids, especially as many parents are home with their kids a lot these days. Sharing this information could be as simple as writing up something for email content, or it could be a short video that you share with donors on social.

Donor experience and donor stewardship go hand in hand. It’s worth investing extra time and energy to level up your donor experience strategy with the goal of improving donor retention and increasing giving levels—your donations will thank you.

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