Stewardship at a Small NPO Starts with Gratitude

Look out, Baltimore—there are fundraisers invading the harbor. AFP’s Fundraising Conference is in full swing this weekend and lasts until Tuesday.

Jennifer Pelton, Director of Development for the Public Justice Center of Maryland, kicked off the day with a simple yet effective reminder for fundraisers—gratitude is the place that all donations stem from.

These are the key points Pelton discussed that your nonprofit can apply right away.

1. Breathe ‘Thank You’

“We want to build a culture of ‘thank you.’ We want to make it the air that we breathe,” Pelton said. It’s not just about asking for money with fundraising. Pelton suggests that only 1 percent of our job is actually asking for money. And the other 99 percent? It’s for thanking your donors in any way that you know how.

But be careful—there is such a thing as too much thanking. That’s why you need to make sure that every form of thanks is sincere. Sincerity is the best way to ensure that your donors want to come back to give to your organization.

2. Be Informed

To take a line from High School Musical—we’re all in this together. One of the easiest ways to lose track of your gratitude efforts is to not have a system in place. Make sure your staff knows who the donors are if they’re going to be at an event. Never assume that somebody knows something about a donor. If everybody is involved, your efforts will eventually become more streamlined.

3. Sooner is Better

Having a small staff can be a challenge, but it’s vital that organizations send their gratitude notes or reach out as soon as possible. As a rule of thumb, Pelton said three days was the maximum amount of time, but sooner is better. And an automated response doesn’t count.

4. Personalization and Teamwork Prevail

Do your research on donors. The more you build the relationship the easier it will be to relate to that donor. Plus, make sure everybody is involved in providing the gratitude. Board members can be in charge of writing notes and staff can be in charge of making phone calls. However you have it divided, make sure everybody is in the know.

5. Use the Language of “We”

Pelton pointed out that using inclusive language will help donors feel like they’re helping to make a difference. They should understand how important their role is. We’d also like to add that using “you” words will help donors visualize their role. As a reference, check out Tom Ahern’s ‘You Test.’


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

March 29, 2015

You May Also Enjoy

Become a Member

Whether you’re with a large team or a solo entrepreneur looking to start the next great cause, we have a membership package that will help you grow your network and your cause.