If you’re not using video as a part of your donor stewardship efforts, you may be overlooking one of the most powerful tools available to your organization. Video is a highly effective means of communication and can be one of the most impactful ways to connect with and steward donors. The first step in fully leveraging quality video content for your stewardship strategy is understanding the specific objectives of donor stewardship. Let’s start with a very basic question:
What is the end goal of donor stewardship?
First, it’s important to recognize that stewardship is more than just “staying friends.” The stewardship process is much like the cultivation process. From the organization’s perspective, donor cultivation is intended to establish and nurture a new or existing relationship before a gift is made. Donor stewardship should serve to deepen that relationship and engage the donor after the gift has been made. Stewardship is a means by which organizations build the stronger relationships necessary to help donors move to the right on the Donor Commitment Continuum—a move that often results in larger, more personally meaningful gifts.
While deepening donor commitment is clearly an end goal of stewardship, from the donor’s perspective, there are many important things that must be accomplished along the way to meet this goal.
What does effective donor stewardship look like?
From the donor’s perspective, stewardship must meet the following objectives:
1. Communicates Appreciation—First, your stewardship efforts must clearly communicate appreciation in a way that best suits the donor’s desires. It gives you the flexibility to be either grand or intimate in your “thank you,” to show it publicly or privately. Video can help you communicate appreciation in a customized manner, designed to fit the donor’s specific personality.
2. Demonstrates Philanthropic Impact—Donors want to know their contributions are making or will make a difference. Video is an excellent medium to capture the philanthropic impact of past contributions, as well as the potential impact of current or future contributions. By expanding the focus to include the anticipated future impact of a donor’s contribution, a stewardship video can be leveraged to inspire others to become philanthropically engaged.
3. Feels Personal—Stewardship must feel personal. For practical purposes, the personalization of the “thank you” is generally increased relative to the size of the contribution. Video can be area-specific; it allows organizations to create large-scale stewardship elements that feel personal to donors of all contribution sizes. Organizations need only modify the delivery methods (large-audience events, email blasts, small-group previews, in-person visits) to personalize the experience even further.
4. Deepens Donor Engagement—An important element of donor stewardship is getting/keeping donors involved after the contribution is made. Video stewardship that is done well and accomplishes the three objectives outlined above, by design, will also evoke deeper donor engagement. Asking donors to participate in the video process and share their stories is also a great way to deepen engagement and increase commitment to your organization. It also provides excellent content from which to craft a highly personalized stewardship video, organizational champion vignettes, and call-to-action material for engaging others.
Well-crafted, meaningful video can be a powerful and versatile asset, making it a must-have in your donor stewardship toolkit.