My friend Marti Healy writes a bi-weekly column for a South Carolina community newspaper. Recently she wrote about the dog version of hugging – leaning – and how we humans have a lot to learn from dogs about “well-timed, good and proper” hugging. She pointed out that recent research has revealed that “the necessary number of hugs for sufficient wellbeing is eight a day (twelve is better, four is an absolute must).” Marti’s column got me thinking about hugging donors. Do organizations do enough of that?
I equate “hugging” donors with stewardship. Once you receive a gift from a donor, what do you do to develop, enhance and add meaning to the relationship with that donor? How do you continue to communicate with and express appreciation to your donors and help them see and understand the impact they are having through their giving?
All too often, organizations tend to overlook the importance of stewardship. Because your best prospects for future gifts are your current donors, stewarding donors after their gifts is as critical as cultivating them before their gifts.
So how do you “hug” your donors? Certainly, appropriate physical hugs are in order, but what are other non-physical ways to express gratitude, draw your donors into a deeper relationship with your organization, and let them know you care about them? Beyond the standard practices of prompt (and accurate!) gift acknowledgement letters, regular newsletters, personal notes from a scholarship recipients, and a birthday greetings, what are other “hugs” you might consider? Here are some stewardship practices that have caught my eye over the years:
What are other ideas you have for “hugging” donors? How can you help ensure that your organization is engaged in “well-timed, good, and proper” stewardship practices that build strong, lasting relationships with donors?