By: Jennifer Bielat

Three Common Donor Stewardship Stumbling Blocks

 

At Pursuant, we have the amazing opportunity to work with a variety of different nonprofits. While the fundraising programs at these organizations are often drastically different, there are some common stumbling blocks we see across the board that impact an organization’s ability to implement an effective stewardship program.

Before we get into how to overcome these roadblocks, let’s address these common stumbling blocks head-on. As you read through these, ask yourself: Have you ever fallen into these traps at your organization?

  1. Developing a strategy based on intuition rather than data-driven insights

Intuition is great and useful, but you need a process to back it up. That’s where data comes in. Data should be your reasoning process. Take the time to step back and thoroughly assess your stewardship strategy – and allow data to drive your strategy by leveraging metrics like coverage ratio.

(New Donors + Reactivated Donors) ÷ Lapsed Donors = Coverage Ratio

With coverage ratio, you’re comparing how much new you’re bringing in versus how much old you’re losing. Spoiler alert: The coverage ratio you are looking for is over 100. This metric is important to stewardship because it tells you both where you are with your retention and where you need/want to be.

  1. Viewing stewardship as a “cost” rather than a revenue driver

Often important, ongoing activities that really add value when it comes to developing long-term relationships with donors – like donor-centric newsletters and extraordinary customer service – get discounted by nonprofits. Organizations view these as a cost center instead of what they really are: a revenue center.

While acquisition definitely plays a part in your fundraising efforts, it’s far less expensive to communicate with existing donors than it is to acquire new ones. We see it time and time again at Pursuant – when there’s a healthy file and there’s healthy investment in retention, organizations are reaping the benefits. While retention may not be as sexy as acquisition, it’s where you see the greatest ROI.

  1. Failing to develop systems and processes around donor stewardship

Stewardship isn’t a single effort. It’s not just one thing you do one time. It’s a chain of events and actions working together over time. And your donor relationships are only as strong as your weakest link. Any weak link in the chain and your donors will fall through the cracks – no matter how strong the other links may be.

That’s why it’s so important to develop processes and systems to ensure you are giving your donors the best experience. For each segment you need to question: What is the donor journey? You need to plan out that journey so every step, every link in the chain (response card, follow up call, welcome process, CRM, etc.), contributes to the overall experience and moves the donor forward.

Now that you know what the three most fatal stewardship hurdles are, find out how you can overcome them. Download our free resource “Demystifying the Donor Journey” today.

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