“Providing stewardship to direct-mail donors is probably the biggest single thing that you can do to create a climate for me to want to give you more. It will increase giving, it’ll increase donor retention, and it sets up a climate for being open to major gifts,” she says.
Osborne also recommends data mining, where you look at your pool of donors to see who has given to your organization for the most years, who gave at a certain threshold — perhaps $100 — and segment them. Wealth screening is another strategy. You can hire a firm that screens your direct-mail donors for those with the highest wealth capacity and philanthropic profile. Devise different ways to engage and reach out to these segments, leading with stewardship.
Invite one segment to a phone session where they will hear from the organization’s CEO about some of the things that are happening within the organization. Give donors an opportunity to ask questions by e-mail or phone. Send another pool of donors a survey and explain that your organization really wants to understand its donors, then ask them to take a few minutes to answer some questions. For another pool, perhaps do the survey on the phone.
World Vision Canada, an organization that helps impoverished and malnourished children around the world, has a lot of direct-mail donors and raises a lot of money via direct mail. It decided to personally call donors who had given $1,500 or more. The stewardship program began with two phone callers calling and building relationships with these direct-mail donors. They called them and thanked them. They called them back several months into the relationship to share with them the impact of their gifts, and let them know what’s going on with the organization. And each step of the way they asked relationship-building questions and listened to the answers.