Donor stewardship is your nonprofit’s ability to retain old donors and interact with new ones. This is a valuable measurement of donor involvement and a highly integral idea to your fundraising as a whole.

But you can’t take care of your donor stewardship without the right technology, because a good amount of donor stewardship these days is taken care of through online and digital tools.

Whether you’re planning a capital campaign or trying to predict the numbers for next year, understanding how your donors interact with your organization’s online presence is essential to running your nonprofit effectively.

There are plenty of ways you can upgrade your donor stewardship skills. You can look at how to:

  1. Use donor database software.
  2. Practice donor segmentation.
  3. Organize your online donations.
  4. Optimize your online donation process.
  5. Be smart about your mobile process.

These easy to follow tips are just the thing you need to take your donor stewardship to the next level.

Let’s look at how we can make your donor stewardship the best it can be!

1. Optimize your online donation process

There are plenty of ways to build connections online and strengthen your donor relations.

If you find that your online donation stewardship is lacking, you can try spicing up the way in which you obtain your online donations.

Working with the right software and having the right website savvy is a highly effective method to improving your donor stewardship. In order to optimize your online donation process with online tools, you can always:

  • Streamline your donation page. Having an optimized donation page is a fantastic way to gain your donors’ (and your staff’s) appreciation. Eliminating unnecessary clutter and making all your giving options clear and defined will help you attract new donors while encouraging repeat donors. Your donors are more likely to give again (or to set up a recurring gift) if the process is straightforward.
  • Use gamification tools. Integrating gamification tools like giving thermometers that your donors can use to track your progress are great methods for making your donors feel involved in the fundraising process. Making donors feel like they’ve played an integral part in your campaign’s success, thanking them for their involvement, and getting them excited about their impact will all increase the odds that they give again.
  • Try an automated thank you message. Use an automated thank-you message to make your donors feel appreciated right off the bat. You can write small, personal updates that go out to donors right after they complete a gift to get them excited about future updates from your nonprofit. Small touches like this can go along way when you’re about to ask past donors to upgrade their gift or give again, especially when it comes to online donors. There are only so many ways to make an impression online, but thanking your donors right off the bat and setting an expectation for further communications will help!

Try out these methods to make giving an enjoyable experience for your donors and show them how much you appreciate them. Those are two important steps in your donor stewardship process!

2. Utilize donor database software

It doesn’t matter if you’re wondering who should receive your sponsorship request letters or if you’re thinking about who to invite to your next event: keeping track of your donors in any situation is extremely important.

Using the right donor database software (and using it well!) plays a key part in effective donor stewardship. Make sure your donor retention strategies are supported by your donor database so you can achieve your maximum potential.

Making good use of your donor database software doesn’t need to be challenging, although it does require good data management practices. If you’re using donor database software, you can:

  • Set goals for donor retention. Great CRMs or donor database softwares allow you to set donor retention goals. Take advantage of these options and set your priorities for donor stewardship. Having a concrete donor retention goal will make planning your organization’s fundraising and communication methods much easier.
  • Collect the right info from your donors. Use your donor database software to collect demographic info and past donation history from your donors. This information will help you focus your efforts on donors who are likely to give again, target your fundraising appeals, and prioritize the donors who are likely to become major donors.
  • Maximize your giving potential. Using donor database software options like wealth screening allows you to identify and cultivate potential major donors more effectively. It will also help you to understand past trends from your largest donors, which is especially useful when putting together major gifts appeals for current donors or finding new ones.

With a little extra work, your CRM or donor management system can be your most valuable donor stewardship tool.

3. Try donor segmentation

Donor database management is central to identifying and cultivating major gifts and recurring donors. But it’s also important in any kind of online donor stewardship strategy for any demographic. You can use the information in your donor database to segment your appeals, which will make them more successful.

By narrowing down what groups of donors interact with your organization, understanding their backgrounds and motivations, and identifying their level of involvement with your nonprofit, donor segmentation can help you target communications to your donors in a way that makes them as successful as possible.

Donor segmentation can be a confusing topic, though. You might find yourself wondering:

  • What is donor segmentation? Donor segmentation simply means identifying groups — or “segments” — of donors that are all identified by common traits. For example, you can segment donors based on type of donor (one-time, recurring, major, etc.), age (Millennial, Boomer, Mature), campaign they supported, etc.
  • What categories can you use for donor segmentation? Anything from volunteer history to matching gift opportunities can be highlighted during the donor segmentation process. You can also look at more indirect categories such as age or marital status.
  • How can you use donor segmentation? Use donor segmentation to make your communications more effective! If you want a donor to give another gift, you can make an appeal that suits their giving history, giving style, communication preferences, etc. You can also it when you’re planning new campaigns, organizing peer-to-peer fundraisers, identifying potential major gifts donors, and more.

Donor segmentation can take a little extra work, but it’s worth it! Segmenting donors requires that you have extensive, well-organized information about your donors. But, since donors are more likely to give to appeals that are personally relevant to them, the effort will pay off.

4. Organize your online donations

Besides the little things you can do to keep track of your donors, there are more organizational ways you can manage all of your online donations.

In order to understand who is giving to your fundraising campaigns and how you can reach them more effectively, you need to organize your online donations properly. This can all be done in your donor database and is a particular version of donor segmentation.

If you’re trying to organize your online fundraising gifts, the best practice can often come to whether or not you:

  • Track returning donors. Returning donors are a fantastic source of income, especially since returning donors are more likely to maintain a long-term relationship with your nonprofit. Make sure that you know who’s passionate about your organization’s cause by looking at whether or not they have given in the past, when they gave, and how much they donated. Bloomerang’s donor database software is a fantastic tool to collect the right metrics on your donors.
  • Keep an eye out for major gift donors. If you’re keeping up with your donor stewardship, major gift donors and their giving potential should be an important part of your development strategy. Major gifts fundraising is an art in and of itself, but there are a few easy-to-spot markers that indicate someone may be a potential major donor. For example, you could look at their giving history and see that every year they give 25% more than the last year. You could also look for donors who repeatedly make medium-sized gifts, have set up recurring gifts, or have loyally given one-time gifts to your nonprofit for several consecutive years.  
  • Research matching gift donors. Matching gift opportunities can double your revenue without expending much extra effort. More importantly, donors love knowing their gift can make a bigger impact if it’s matched. Look for opportunities to share matching gift options to your donors — knowing a gift can be matched might help a donor decide to donate again. Make the process easier on your donors and yourself by using a matching gift database that can keep proper track of all potential matching gift donors. It’ll add efficiency and quickness to your matching gift research process.

Combining the information in your donor database with the insights you can pull from your online fundraising platform will give you a nuanced — and valuable — understanding of what inspires your donors and how to keep them involved in your nonprofit.

5. Be smart about your mobile fundraising

Let’s say you need a better way to work with your small-to-medium donors because your current channels aren’t immediate or convenient enough. You could have the best cultivation strategy in the world in place, but it wouldn’t matter if inspired donors couldn’t give!

When you focus on mobile fundraising for your medium or small donors, you make them more likely to donate to you again.

Whether it’s through Qgiv’s text giving capabilities or through an optimized online giving, you’ll make life easier for your mobile donors. That will pay off big time in the long run.

If you’re looking to mix mobile fundraising and donor cultivation into your online donor stewardship strategy, you might ask:

  • What is mobile fundraising? Mobile fundraising is any kind of fundraising process done through smartphones, tablets, or any other kind of mobile device. It has become an increasingly popular choice for nonprofits as these kinds of devices are only becoming more and more popular. Text giving, for instance, makes a great usage of mobile giving platforms and software, and helps you work with newer donors.
  • How can you use mobile fundraising for stewardship? Whether you’re taking donations for an event or using a text-to-give option, mobile fundraising can promote your organization’s presence either through specific mobile fundraising apps or through all of the fundraising being conducted solely online. By using mobile fundraising to make their giving experience smoother, your organization increases the likelihood that donors will give to you, stay engaged, and make additional gifts in the future.

Mobile fundraising is becoming the norm, and donors expect supporting their favorite organizations to be easy. If your donation process isn’t streamlined and painless on mobile devices, you risk losing donors before you have a chance to cultivate relationships with them.

Good donor stewardship considers every aspect of your donors’ experiences with you and whether or not it inspires them to give again. If you want to run a successful donor stewardship program, you need to have good donor data, use that data to send targeted appeals to your supporters, and make it convenient to respond to those appeals. Then, you should focus on making it easy for those donors to stay engaged long enough to give again. It’s a simple task — though it’s not an easy one! — that will result in a thriving base of inspired donors who are passionate about supporting your cause.

About the Author

Photo of Abby JarvisAbby Jarvis is the Nonprofit Education Manager for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.