As stewardship professionals know well, strengthening and preserving relationships with the donors is essential to an institution’s success. In fact, over 50% of higher education institutions are focused on creating more impactful donor stewardship practices in 2019.
Stewardship processes are multi-faceted and unique to each institution – there’s no “one size fits all” model. For stewardship professionals today, one of the biggest challenges is building a more personal and authentic connection with donors. In the ever-changing landscape of higher education, we know it’s difficult to slow down and create a thoughtful strategy that works for you.
Those at the leading-edge of transforming donor stewardship leverage technology to help them show donors their direct impact and generate enthusiasm that allows them to build stronger connections. To join the cutting edge of higher ed donor relations, check out three ways you can leverage technology to enhance donor stewardship at your institution:
1. The power of the thank you
There’s nothing more personal than a thank you – I think we can all agree with that. While simply saying thank you for a gift is a given, institutions can do more. By sharing personal stories of how donor funds have impacted individuals’ educational experiences and telling the narrative about a gift’s impact on campus, you’re able to tell a story that resonates more with donor.
Gone are the days of the sloppy hand written thank you letters from your award recipients. No longer do you need to reach back out to edit their notes. Be proactive with quality control by providing award recipients with guiding questions and acknowledgment templates to establish expectations up front.
Help award recipients understand the importance of donor stewardship and encourage them to be an active participant in the process. The right technology can not only streamline these processes for you, but also improve the experience for students and donors as well!
Pro Tip: Ensure the thank you letters and impact statements you’re collecting from award recipients are quality and clearly tells the narrative of how the gift has impacted their life as well as the future of the institution.
2. Thinking outside of the thank you
Now that the donor has made a gift and you have said thank you, where do you go from here?
Donors want to have a personal connection with your institution’s success and feel like they are also a part of the community. Think about providing financial data and campus news to show how their funds are driving impact.
For those of you that have tackled this before, collecting updated and comprehensive information on donor funds is one of the most tedious aspects of creating donor reports. With the right technology, you’ll be able to eliminate the manual aspects of this and simply import the data you need from across campus. Imagine having financials and thank you letters right at your fingertips.
Pro tip: Find a stewardship solution that directly imports fund data from your institution’s financial solution to take the potential burden of manual data entry off your plate.
3. Give them what they want (what they really, really want)
We’ve talked about the what, now let’s talk about the how.
Communication is the first rule in stewardship. Once you’ve collected the data (impact statements, financials, etc.) you need to package and deliver a comprehensive report to your donors. Keep in mind not everyone likes to receive information the same way so your stewardship strategy should account for delivering donor reports via mail, email, and online.
While you should continue delivering reports via mail and email to those who want it, start getting your donors excited about digital transformation and what new opportunities come with it.
Pro tip: Donors want to easily and securely access the reports and updates you share with them throughout their entire giving history. Historically this has been done through disparate donor reports but with an online portal you can provide them a comprehensive view of their lasting impact on the institution as well as other relevant campus news.
Now that we’ve covered how technology can alleviate the administrative burden from stewardship processes, get your creative juices flowing to think of other ways you can spend more time with your donors. Learn how Blackbaud can help your institution drive digital transformation with your stewardship processes at https://www.blackbaud.co.uk/solutions/grant-and-award-management/award-management