Updated: Oct 13
How To Build A Powerful Fundraising Culture To Attract Major Givers
Part III, Keeping your Donors updated, and not making them ask what happened to their money!
What is a steward?
In simplest terms, it is someone who cares for something. The biblical view of stewardship is that God owns everything; at most we are stewards, managers, or workers serving His purposes.
So what does stewardship mean in the context of your nonprofit, specifically in the context of major givers? To answer that we have to understand some basics about why givers give.
Do you know why your givers give? That might sound silly… especially to you; the one they’re giving to!
Let me explain:
Givers give for an infinite number of reasons. Boiled down, however, you’re almost always left with passion. Your givers are gifting their hard-earned money to you because they believe that you have a solution to a problem that they take very seriously.
What’s the best thing you can do then?
Prove them right!!!
Delivering timely, meaningful, real-world updates that allow your givers to celebrate is the single most important thing you can do to build partnerships and trust!
Does this “story” sound familiar to you?
A major gift comes in. HOORAY!! One giver blesses your organization with $50,000 to finally build that facility in Uganda you’ve been talking about for what seems like forever. You’re ecstatic, you can already see the lives being changed! You get to work, deploy the funds, and time moves on! You’ve been hard at work managing this project for 6 months, and next thing you know the giver reaches out to you:
“Hi [org leader], I’m sure you’re busy but I haven’t heard any updates on the project in Uganda for the past 5 months. Just making sure everything is running smoothly?”
Yikes! You’ve been hard at work doing everything you can to manage this project. The only thing, you forgot to let the Giver know that! For all they know you ran off with the cash and settled down in a nice beach town.
Now you scramble to send them something. You’re reaching out to your project manager in Uganda, your local team and it’s all just a big mess! What a missed opportunity!
This, unfortunately, is a story that I’ve heard far too often. It’s nobodies fault, it’s just the way it is in small-medium size organizations that don’t have enough money or manpower; IF you don’t have a process!
So how do you solve this? Process. Process. Process.
Timing and content are key. You need to deliver updates to givers with regularity and predictability. This builds trust, and shows them you’re not just “winging it” with the funds they’ve entrusted to you!
A good place to start:
Send an update when you break ground on the project.
Send an update when you’re halfway through the project.
Send an update when you’re finished with the project.
Send an update when you’ve begun using the facility.
This applies to all major gifts! Event sponsorships, child sponsorships, capital projects, programming, etc. The content may be different but the importance stays the same!
You also need to deliver meaningful information to them. One of the most important things here is pulling the information from the front lines. Get pictures, building plans, financial specifics, stories from the field. To do that you need a streamlined way to communicate and gather information from the field.
Let’s get specific, here are some best practices:
Discuss what was actually achieved because of their gift
Discuss how these results were achieved. Specific stories, strategies etc
How as the money used (BE SPECIFIC). Did you go over budget? Did you go under? What are you going to do with the surplus. How are you going to raise the remainder needed?
This is a huge opportunity to build trust. Don’t make things sound better than they are! Transparency here is a must!
Personal Thank you
This is where you get to prove your Givers right about you. You’re basically saying “Hey I really care about this thing too, and I’m going to do something about it” to get the donation. Now you can authoritatively say “See, together we made an impact!” There’s no better testimonial than that.
How to actually get started:
This all probably sounds great to you, but might feel unrealistic. That’s how we felt too, which is why we built Dot Drives. To be clear, you don’t need Dot Drives to accomplish these things. But it will make it much simpler, clearer, and more efficient.
Pairing this approach with a Coach or Consultant to help you get started is a powerful combination that primes your team for success! We have team members that are here to do just that! Reach out to me if you have any questions: email@example.com
We built the giver updates feature to very simply accomplish everything we’re talking about above. You can assign front line individuals all over the world pre-defined information you’d like to see about specific projects and programs at specified times. Build out your updates workflow months in advance so everyone knows what needs to be done, for who, and at what point. Total clarity on responsibility.
The benefit: You allow your Givers to Celebrate with you!
1. Get your weekly development meetings started!
2. Allow your Givers to Celebrate by sending them Giver Updates in a Process-Driven way.
a. Dot Drives makes this easy, but either way, this process is fundamental to Stewarding Givers well.
3. Get started!
Need a little help? Flagship is one of our premier community partners and offers great solutions that help you become fully equipped and fully funded
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