By: Caroline Alred
A good relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a romance or a family bond, requires regular attention and special care for it to thrive. A nonprofit needs to form the same kind of nurturing relationship with each of its donors and volunteers. A nonprofit’s main goal is to further its mission, but this is impossible without the help of its donors and volunteers, two of the most valuable resources. Merriam -Webster defines stewardship as “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” It’s up to the nonprofit and its public relations practitioners to carefully manage and show gratitude for the time, services and money the donors and volunteers provide.
Stewardship is a rather basic public relations concept, but it can make a substantial impact. PRLine outlines four important dimensions of stewardship: reciprocity, responsibility, reporting and relationship nurturing.
- Reciprocity is the essence of social responsibility. It means recognizing stakeholders and showing them gratitude for their involvement and contributions.
- Responsibility is an organization keeping its word and fulfilling its promises. An organization’s goal should always be to meet its key publics’ expectations.
- Reporting is communication between the organization and its publics. It’s a basic requirement to update clients and stakeholders on ongoing changes and developments.
- Relationship nurturing is an organization showing its clients and stakeholders that they are cared for and taken care of. A successful organization nurtures current relationships while building also new ones.
Bloomerang says building client relationships is the first crucial step to successful fundraising. First impressions are important if you want to convince potential donors and volunteers to get involved. The employees of a nonprofit should be properly trained on how to answer the phone, how to socialize at special events, and how to interact with key publics on social media. Nonprofits who put more emphasis on stewardship than money will actually see an increase in fundraising because donors and volunteers will be excited and eager to help the cause.
Many donors and volunteers are associated with multiple nonprofits, so it’s important to build a client relationship that’s personal and meaningful. The Nonprofit Easy blog provided tips on how to cultivate this type of relationship through different strategies. Kivi Leroux Miler, president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, touches on how important thank you letters are. A thank you letter should “look like a personal letter from one friend to another.” A simple thanks can make a donor or volunteer willingly give again and again.
Claire Axelrad, principal at Clairification, says: “Effective stewardship can be summed up in two words: gratitude and impact. Think hard about what you’re grateful to your donor for.” It’s crucial to always show and not just tell your donors and volunteers why you’re appreciative.
Very few nonprofits receive resources or funds from the government. The majority of nonprofits rely on the help of their surrounding community, so great stewardship will always be the answer to success. Classy Blog says you need to make sure you are “gaining more new donors each year than you are losing.” The key to this is having a well-developed plan. Start planning because the secret to fundraising is as easy as making a new friend.
Connect with Empower Public Relation’s Co-Event Director, Caroline Alred.