If you were to ask someone in fundraising to explain the role that stewardship plays in annual giving they might say that it has to do with the acknowledgement letters they produce or the roster of donors they publish or the plaques they hang in the offices of their nonprofit.
And while it’s true these certainly are aspects of a stewardship program, none of them are as singularly important as showing donors how their gifts have made and are making a difference.
The only problem with this is that it isn’t always easy to explain to donors how their donation was used. That’s because major gifts typically go to support specific needs, while annual gifts are often joined together and used where the CEO or leadership in general feels it is most needed.
However, even though it may be hard to show a $50 annual fund donor exactly how his/her money was used, you can help them to understand the kind of collective impact that happens as a result of annual giving.
Rescigno’s works with many nonprofits who produce impact reports both online and via direct mail. These reports are filled with pictures, videos, and stories about the impact of annual giving on the lives of students and faculty. Donors also receive quarterly impact report emails, some of which come from beneficiaries who have helped. These include stories and specific examples of how donor support has made a difference in their lives.
And you know what? Not only do these efforts result in better retention rates, they often receive heartfelt emails and phone calls from donors telling them how much they appreciate the reports. Imagine that!
And here is one of fundraising’s hidden secrets for you: Anyone who says, “It’s all about the money,” is missing the point. What is the point though is what the money does for those in need. And in annual giving this is especially important.
So resolve to talk those individuals who have benefitted from annual support. Find out about their stories, collect them, and most importantly, share them with donors who made them possible in the first place.