Last week we talked about three aspects of stewardship: process, communications and transparency. This week we will talk about investors giving more money, keeping the process fresh and exciting, recognition and how often to solicit.
A new investor should not only receive a thank you letter, staff must begin to engage that investor as a volunteer, be placed on a committee, be chair of the silent auction or simply seek their advice on a new program or ideas about your annual fund report. This level of engagement will keep the investor interested as far a promoting your organization through op-ed submissions, spreading the word about your organization and overall feeling like they are real part of your organization. These investors will feel committed enough to increase their gift every year.
Keeping the process from being stall is paramount to telling the your investor the impact of their gift. Organizations tend to use the same process over and over again, thinking that the investor won’t notice. But guess, what they do! Invitations are great but try to think of new cultivation concepts that feel more creative and engaging. Perhaps send a photo album to memorialize an event, have a special speaker for your middle investor who might otherwise not get such an opportunity, create a new committee to brainstorming program ideas and add additional members to execute the program and promote it. BE CREATIVE!
Though many investors indicate that recognition is not important to them, the staff knows otherwise! There are basics for recognition like naming opportunities and investors lists in annual reports, online as well as call from a board members. Here again, creativity is a must! A thank you dinner for first time major gift or principal gift investors and a speaker from your organization or some well known on a topic that is relevant to your organization always draws a crowd. What about a private meeting with the president or other influential staff to meet with a small group of new investors or a private tour of your organization.
How many times does your organization solicit during the year? Some ask as many as 5-6 times and even if the ask for different in the organization, the investors may become annoyed and stop giving all together. If you ask to rarely, the investor may think their gift is not important and will stop giving. Many organizations solicit 2-3 times a year and try to make each ask, slightly different i.e., annual fund online, sponsorship of an event by letter and a capital campaign ask in person. Some organizations make dual ask at the end of the year and then creates stewardship opportunities to keep the investor engaged.
This winds up the essentials of stewardship. Next week we will look a ways to actually steward your investors. Let me know if you have any ideas!