See how one South Florida charity gets creative to steward its donors and save money at the same time. Easy to adapt, easy to implement...
D-I-Y Donor Stewardship Tip #1:
In addition to donation thank-you letters that Kids In Distress sends to all donors (never more than 48 hours after a gift is received - bravo!), Phyllis likes for people who give to receive something that vividly connects their donation to KID's work.
So she sends -- at varying intervals -- letters written by some of the children and families KID helps.
She then attaches a 'sticky' to the letter, with a handwritten message from her that begins, "Because of your generosity..." then links the donor's gift to the note she encloses.
If you guessed that feedback from this stewardship piece has been terrific, you're right.
One woman called to say she didn't feel her donation was generous enough to merit receiving such an 'intimate' letter... then promptly sent a check for double the amount of her prior gift.
Phyllis also reported that many notes come back, written by donors, addressed directly to the children.
See sample letter 1 here and sample letter 2 here. (Please excuse the quality of photo in letter 1: it's a good bit better in real life; Phyllis shared her already-scanned PDF version with me, and with you.)
Can you do something similar?
Yes, you can... and I hope that when you do, you'll let me (and Phyllis!) know how you make out.
D-I-Y Stewardship Tip Number 2:
For many organizations, donor newsletters can make up a substantial chunk of the fundraising and development budget each year -- something that often results in the powers that be deciding to slash an issue, or worse yet, stop sending altogether.
(Aside: halting or cutting back on donor newsletters is a huge mistake. I can think of one large charity that did so, because it was between agencies. Two years later, donors were still calling to ask when their newsletter would arrive. Oh, the opportunities lost.)
Now back to earth. As a mid-sized charity, KID knows it needs a dynamite donor newsletter, but strives to control costs wherever possible.
So Phyllis is getting crafty.
She'll soon ask area businesses to underwrite production costs for the newsletter - per issue or per year - as a way of helping out.
Businesses that sign on get the benefit of a sponsorship box in the newsletter, increasing goodwill in the community, and helping more of each donation go directly to making life better for children in South Florida who've been abused, abandoned or neglected... and that's why it's a good stewardship idea.
By the way, my designer colleague Sandie and I overhauled KID's donor newsletter last fall. This link will take you to the PDF on the Kids In Distress website, which shows how it looks, pre-sponsors.
If Phyllis signs on sponsors for the next issue, I'll ask to show you another sample.