How to Be a Small-Shop Nonprofit Development Director
Great stewardship doesn’t just happen—it takes time, effort and dedication. But you know what? Your persistence will pay off. Stewardship is your key to lifelong donors and eventual bequest gifts. Make a plan to gather all stewardship materials together and develop a consistent plan for both thanking and retaining donors.
- Does the organization have protocols on stewardship?
- What are the guidelines for a thank-you letter to a donor? To a corporate or foundation funder?
- How often are thank-you letters changed up?
- Do you have a “welcome pack” for first-time donors?
- When does the board president or CEO sign the thank-you letter?
- Are thank-you calls made on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? By whom?
Take a look at your organization’s 990 or budget for the past three years in order to determine what percentage of the budget came from grant funding.
- Has the organization run any past capital campaigns?
- Does it have a history of funding from the same funders every year?
- What efforts have been made to locate new sources of foundation or corporate funding?
- What is the organization’s goal for foundation/corporate funding?
- What types of relationships does the organization have with its foundation/corporate funders?
- Does the organization have a grants system in place?
If you’ve been in the nonprofit field for a while, chances are you’ll have some ideas of new sources. Make it a point to prioritize locating new sources of funding by doing weekly research.
This should be your first priority.
I’m assuming that your organization has a database. Chances are if you’re a new development director working for a smaller nonprofit and serve as the sole development department, the database may either be nonexistent or in a bit of chaos.
If the database exists, do your best to familiarize yourself with it, as well as past protocols for data entry and reporting procedures, and vendor contracts. If necessary, absolutely set some time aside for training.
Begin to outline a consistent, multichannel communications plan to retain your donors—and keep your supporters inspired.
- How has your organization communicated in the past? Appeals? Newsletters? Email?
- What does your organization’s website look like and who maintains it? Is the site current? Is the online-donation process seamless and donor-focused? What kind of user experience does the online donor encounter?
- What types of collateral does the organization have to express its mission?
- Does your organization have a bequest tagline that is included on all collateral?
- Is the organization logo prominent on all pieces of communication?
- Has communication with donors been current or sporadic?
- Has any effort been made to engage the local press?
- Does your organization utilize any social media? Should it?
Familiarize yourself with past events, if any.
- How do past events relate to the mission of the organization?
- Have the events met a goal? If they’ve fallen short, by how much?
- What are the expectations for the upcoming year?
- Are events monopolizing staff time? Are there events you could get rid of?
- What types of follow-up are conducted to turn event attendees into donors?
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.