Personalised stewardship means more to the donor

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about handwritten notes. In this post, I reinforced the concept that personalised stewardship means more to the donor than mass produced and manufactured stewardship pieces.

Imagine my delight when I received a handwritten thank you note from the University of Queensland (UQ) last Friday. The note, written by a student, thanked me for my scholarship donation and called me a “ChangeMaker”. Talking about making this donor feel good. UQ label a ChangeMaker as someone who “revolutionise and shape our world. They share knowledge, ideas, skills and experiences to solve problems. By striving to create positive change – big or small – you too can be a ChangeMaker.”

Unviersities – a model

Universities tend to do stewardship very well. UQ, in particular, have caught my attention of the years and I have highlighted UQ donor stewardship in various blog posts as a model for universities, schools, and social purpose organisations across the sector. In particular, I have loved the personalised thank you videos done by UQ and by my own alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. Using the ThankView platform, Wisconsin fundraisers record thank you videos each day personalised to the donors who have given that day. The videos are distributed in an “envelope” in an email to the donors. I know I was likely one of several Stephen’s who donated the same day, so recording the video once and sending it to “Stephen” was easy. Simply put, the thank you video is recorded and sent via ThankView to all Stephen’s who gave!

Why personalisation matters

Personalised donor stewardship is key to ensuring your organisation’s fundraising success. It shows you care about the relationship and that the donor stands out amongst the, perhaps, thousands of donors giving to your organisation. Strong donor stewardship starts when a donor makes their first donation to your organisation. Sequential steps of good stewardship include:

  • Initial thank you.
    • Ensuring an accurate, warm, and engaging acknowledgement letter containing a tax receipt for the donation.
  • Cultivating the donor.
    • Commencing the development of a relationship with the donor.
    • Understand what the donor wants from the relationship is key.
  • Donor recognition.
    • Recognising the donor according to their expectations is critical.
    • Remember, not every donor wants to be recognised publicly.
  • Show impact.
    • Donors like to know their gift had an impact – no matter the size of the donation.
  • Continue cultivation.
    • The first gift will not be their last so long as you work to build the relationship and respond to the donor’s needs and desires.

FundraisingForce remains product agnostic. ThankView is new to the Australian market and given there is limited product in this space, we feel comfortable informing the charitable sector about the product.