Gratitude in Action: Effective Donor Stewardship Tactics

Expressing gratitude towards your donors is not just a courtesy – it’s a cornerstone of sustainable nonprofit relationships. When a donor decides to make a gift to a nonprofit, it is an emotional process that can involve several steps: research, comparison, inspiration, decision-making and action. It is safe to assume that no donation is made without careful consideration, and therefore no gift should go unnoticed or unappreciated. In other words, donor stewardship should be a top priority for every nonprofit organization.

But simply knowing that you should express gratitude, does not make it happen! In this post, we’ll delve into why showing gratitude for donors all year round is essential, as well as practical donor stewardship tactics to enhance your organization’s long-term impact.

Why Gratitude Matters – All Year Long

Gratitude is the unwavering foundation of effective donor stewardship, serving as a catalyst for deeper engagement and support. Here are three reasons why expressing gratitude consistently is crucial:

  • Nurturing Relationships Builds Trust: Regular expressions of gratitude opens the door to fostering true relationships with your donors. Effective donor stewardship is not just saying “thank you”, it is a chance to educate them about the impact their dollars are making. This type of transparency builds trust in your mission over time and provides confidence to your donors that their money is making a difference.
  • Retaining Donors Costs Less Than Finding New Ones: The simple fact is that mastering donor retention is the key to the long-term sustainability of your nonprofit. Properly stewarding your current donors will ultimately cost you less than prospecting and converting new donors. By taking the time to show your appreciation throughout the entire year, you keep your donors connected to the ongoing work you are doing, as well as inspire engagement with upcoming capital campaigns or fundraising events. 
  • Expressing Gratitude Elevates Donors To The Next Level: Besides your staff members, donors are often the most passionate advocates for your organization. When donors feel appreciated, they are more inclined to share their positive experiences with others, which will naturally multiply your reach. Additionally, your current donors are the most likely group of people to offer their time and talent in other meaningful ways, like serving as volunteers, board members, and even joining your team as a staff members if the opportunity arises! Keeping them involved all year long will only lead to bigger and better outcomes for your nonprofit. 

Four Effective Donor Stewardship Tactics

Now, let’s make it happen! Here are four practical strategies you can implement today to enhance your organization’s donor stewardship efforts:

  • Personalized Video Thank You Messages: Take the time to craft personalized video thank you messages for individuals, families or groups of donors. Acknowledge the contributions they made to the specific fundraising campaign and the impact they’ve made. The best part is – keeping it short will work to your advantage! According to Sprout Social, viewers consider short-form videos to be 2.5 times more engaging than long-form videos. If you need help getting started, check out these five scripts to spark great thank you video messages
  • Provide Regular Email Updates: Keep donors informed about how their contributions are making a difference. Use consistent email correspondence to share success stories, project updates, and testimonials that illustrate the real-world impact of their support. Remember, practicing stewardship means that every correspondence does NOT include a fundraising ask. Simply share an uplifting mission moment from the past month to keep your donors feeling in-the-loop.
  • Utilize “12 Months of Gratitude Canva Templates”: canva memoryfox Leverage our themed, customizable Canva templates to express gratitude creatively and consistently throughout the year. Whether it’s sending “thinking of you” emails, sharing donor spotlights on social media, or creating engaging visuals for your website, these templates streamline the process of showing appreciation to your supporters without the designing hassle. Also, when using these templates, be sure to check out the “Notes” section for helpful tips to upgrading your designs!
  • Make Gratitude a Two-Way Conversation. Have you asked your donors why they gave a gift to your organization? Consider adding this question to the automated email receipt, as well as the “thank you for your gift” page that redirects after they’ve hit the “donate” button. Provide an embedded form where they can write their answer, or use a story collection tool, like MemoryFox, to capture videos, photos and written testimonials with consent. While it’s likely that only a fraction of your donors will answer, you might be surprised to hear their stories! These insights can help you to better understand your audience and shape your communications for the future.

In conclusion, effective donor stewardship is essential for nurturing lasting relationships and maximizing the impact of your nonprofit’s work. By prioritizing gratitude year-round and implementing strategic stewardship tactics, you’ll not only honor your donors’ generosity but cultivate a community of dedicated supporters invested in the long-term success of your organization’s mission.

carly euler memoryfox

About the Author

Carly Euler
Marketing Manager, MemoryFox

Carly comes from the nonprofit world ready to elevate the hundreds of nonprofits in the MemoryFox community. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Wily Network’s Young Professionals Association, and has previously held positions at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, the Code of Support Foundation, Kenya Lacrosse Association, and the BOMA Project, where she has specialized in marketing, communications, and fundraising. Storytelling has been an integral part of each role.