Stewardship a process that goes beyond transactional interactions and focuses on nurturing emotional connections to inspire positive actions. Stewardship is 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.
Stewardship goes beyond the immediate goal of retaining supporters. 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 – more about that from the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy.
At the core of stewardship lies a journey that supporters embark upon when they connect with your organization. This journey involves various stages:
The journey begins with a warm welcome and genuine appreciation for supporters' initial contributions. Expressing gratitude sets the tone for a positive relationship.
As supporters continue their journey, engage them with content that showcases the impact of their contributions. Showcasing real stories and achievements deepens their emotional connection.
Effective stewardship involves understanding supporters' preferences and tailoring communications accordingly. Personalization makes supporters feel heard and understood.
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.
Stewardship is a two-way street. Encourage supporters to share their thoughts, feedback, and experiences. This not only strengthens the relationship but also helps you refine your approach.
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.
The impact of stewardship can be measured through increased engagement, longer retention rates, and the transformation of supporters into advocates. Keep in mind that stewardship is a long-term endeavor 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.
Think about key milestones in your campaign, including attrition peaks, and think about what you could do to help strengthen your bond with your supporters at these times? With the cost of living crisis, it’s worth being mindful that strengthening relationships might not always be about financial giving. It can also be advocacy, volunteering and other non-financial support.
For more on retention and stewardship, watch our webinar on demand.
Woods Valldata 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 your to build and enhance your individual giving programmes. Drop us a line today to see where we can help.