Designing a Stewardship Strategy Based on the Acronym “A RIVER”
The word “stewardship” gets used a lot in the world of annual giving. But ask a group of people to explain its meaning and you’re likely to get a lot of different responses. That’s because stewardship isn’t just one thing. It’s many things. And it’s not something you do just once. It’s constant and fluid. In many ways, it’s like a river.
A RIVER is also an acronym to help you think about and remember the many ways stewardship should flow through your fundraising operation:
Acknowledgment – Let donors know that their gifts have been received as soon as possible. This might include something as standard as a receipt or as personal as a handwritten note. The best acknowledgments arrive quickly.
Recognition – Nothing stands out like the letters in one’s own name. Identifying donors in print or online not only lets them know that their support is recognized, but it can also incentivize others to donate. It can be just as motivating to notice that your name is missing from a list, as it is to see your name on it.
Impact – It’s not about the money. It’s about what the money does. Show donors the impact of their gifts. Provide examples. Tell stories.
Value – Most donors aren’t looking for something in return, but offering them small tokens of appreciation (e.g., invitations, keepsakes, discounts) can go a long way. Give and you shall receive.
Experience – Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee, they sell an experience. What kinds of experiences are you giving to your donors?
Reminders – Chances are that your donors have as much (if not more) going on than you do. Reminding them when their pledge payments are due or that a year has elapsed since their last annual fund gift isn’t nagging. It’s good stewardship.
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