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Stewardship in Individual Giving: Cultivating Deep Connections for Positive Action

In the realm of individual giving, creating lasting relationships with supporters is incredibly important. This is where stewardship comes into play.

Stewardship a process that goes beyond transactional interactions and instead focuses on nurturing emotional connections to inspire positive actions. Essentially, it’s about building a journey that transforms one-time supporters into lifelong advocates. But how do you effectively cultivate these deep connections?

Let's dive into the world of stewardship and explore practical strategies to create meaningful and lasting relationships in individual giving fundraising.

The heart of stewardship: fostering love for your cause

Stewardship goes beyond the immediate goal of retaining supporters. Instead, it's about creating an environment where supporters feel valued, respected, and inspired to contribute beyond just financial means.

The ultimate objective is to develop a bond that resembles love – a profound emotional connection that fuels commitment, loyalty, and advocacy – which you can learn more about from the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy.

The 5 stages of the stewardship journey explained

At the core of stewardship lies a journey that supporters embark upon when they connect with your organization. This journey involves various stages:

1. Welcome and appreciation

The journey begins with a warm welcome and genuine appreciation for your supporters' initial contributions. Expressing gratitude from the beginning sets the tone for a positive relationship throughout their stewardship journey.

2. Engagement and impact

As supporters continue their journey with your charity, engage them with content that explains the impact of their contributions. Showcasing real stories and achievements deepens their emotional connection.

3. Personalisation and tailoring

Effective stewardship also involves understanding supporters' preferences and tailoring any communications accordingly. Plus, personalization makes supporters feel appreciated, seen, heard and understood.

4. Asking with purpose

While stewardship isn't solely about asking for more, well-timed and relevant asks can be integrated into the journey. Supporters who feel emotionally connected are more likely to respond positively.

5. Feedback loop

It’s important to remember that stewardship is a two-way street, which is why it’s vital to encourage supporters to share their thoughts, feedback, and experiences. This not only strengthens the relationship but also helps you refine your approach.

6. Inspiration and advocacy

Finally, a successful stewardship journey culminates in supporters becoming advocates for your cause. Their emotional connection drives them to actively promote your organization and encourage others to get involved.

Measuring success and sustaining relationships

The impact of stewardship is undeniable and can be measured through increased engagement, longer retention rates, and the transformation of supporters into advocates.

It’s important to remember that stewardship is a long-term endeavour that requires planning and time to see the results. Keep your tests simple and ensure that they align with your objectives. Consider how the change will impact your programme before starting the activity, and then assess whether the results fit with your assumptions.

Tests can be as simple as including an additional postcard at a key attrition point or changing the messaging on how you welcome new supporters. A good place to start is to think about key milestones in your campaign, including attrition peaks, and what you could do to help strengthen your bond with your supporters at these times.

Lastly, with the cost-of-living crisis, it’s also worth being mindful that strengthening relationships might not always be about financial giving. It can also be advocacy, volunteering and other non-financial support.

Where can you get support with your supporter journey planning?

If you’re looking for further support and information on retention and stewardship, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Woods Valldata, we have over 40 years’ experience of partnering with charities on their individual giving fundraising.

Alongside the experience and expertise of our response handling, fulfilment, and account management teams, our data strategy and insight services work with you to build and enhance your individual giving programmes.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with stewardship in individual giving fundraising, drop us a line today to see where we can help. Alternatively, watch our webinar on demand for more information and advice.

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