<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=5449063228504841&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Podcast | Year-End Fundraising in July: The Crucial Importance of Stewardship Throughout the Year

Too often, the scenario goes like this: Thanksgiving comes around, and nonprofits kick off the year-end giving season by sending a cultivation or stewardship email. The holiday is one of thanks, after all, and with Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising campaigns on the horizon, it’s a natural time of year to thank donors and supporters of your cause. 

But November cannot be the only time nonprofit organizations thank those who have supported them financially. Instead, stewardship is a practice that happens throughout the year.

In this week’s installment of “Year-End in July,” we’ll explore how you can steward your donors twelve months a year with guests Kim Richardson and Debbie Merlino.


Build Relationships Throughout the Year

Episodic moments of stewardship don’t build meaningful relationships. Nonprofits should provide recaps of accomplishments throughout the year; whether this happens in a newsletter, an impact report, or even a social media post, highlighting the results of a donor’s dollar can help drive home how their giving is making a difference.

When nonprofits can tell impactful stories in every season, Associate VP for Client Strategy Kim Richardson says strong year-end campaigns can be as simple as the following: 

  • Write a handwritten thank you note. Volunteers and other staff members can easily help with this activity as well! 
  • Practice fun digital engagement by including a free download, a tip about celebrations, or recipes on your website. This can be particularly significant for faith-based organizations around religious holidays. 
  • Include a voice broadcast thanking donors for their gift. Hearing a person's voice is powerful whether it comes from an executive director, program staff, or the people you help. 
  • Throw an in-person appreciation party, especially if you’re local to those you serve. 
  • Resolve individual complaints. Creating goodwill makes it much easier for people to decide to support your organization down the road. 

As our team often reminds clients, two-way communication is always the goal. Seek to make people seen and heard! 


Let Them See Backstage 

Even if your organization is limited by the number of channels you can use, giving donors a “behind the curtain” peek at your organization is a particularly compelling touchpoint.

Debbie Merlino, Executive VP for Client Relations, recommends letting donors see backstage. Imagine giving folks an inside peek at where they’re taking care of animals or putting on a performance. People get to see what’s happening; they start to understand what it’s like to be in your organization. This tactic is particularly powerful for Merlino’s clients in the Public Media and Arts & Culture spaces. 

High-impact cultivation can also easily happen amid tight budgets and limited staffing resources. Fundraisers often have to produce highly-definition, expensive-looking videos, but a cell phone can do the trick. Our team at Pursuant and Allegiance Groups recommends posting an uncurated video on social media: it’s high-quality but comes across as authentic.

Thinking outside the box regarding stewardship and cultivation will yield more donors who feel appreciated and likely to give again. 


Tack GROW to Your Wall 

Although this week’s installment is chock-full of handy tips and recommendations, a simple mnemonic device can be all that’s needed to help nonprofits practice stewardship throughout the year. 

  • Gratitude: Thank donors often, sincerely, and profusely. 
  • Report the impact: Tell donors what their generosity has accomplished!
  • Own and correct mistakes and issues: Be transparent and apologize when necessary.  
  • Welcome: Adequately welcome new donors to the giving family, just as you welcome feedback from current and lapsed donors. 

Simply put, thoughtful approaches to cultivating relationships with donors will be rewarded and help your organization grow. 

The takeaway? Nonprofit organizations can easily break through the clutter by employing surprise and delight tactics and seeking to put human interactions at the top of their priority list. Come out on top by using effective stewardship practices throughout the year!

Want to hear more? Listen to the full episode:

Connect with Kim Richardson

Connect with Debbie Merlino

Get more Go Beyond Fundraising Podcasts