With many of my clients having recently mounted year-end giving campaigns with great results, they’re now actively working to effectively thank and steward their generous donors. While the ways to express gratitude are as varied as the causes donors care about, I’ve always encouraged non-profit governance, executive and development leaders to seize every opportunity to build stronger and deeper relationships with those who support them. How can those vital relationships be bolstered, while building an organization’s fundraising capability at the same time?
I recommend that board members, development directors and CEOs divide the list of those who recently gave to their organization and make personal calls to 1) offer authentic gratitude, 2) gain valuable insight, and 3) differentiate themselves in an increasingly sophisticated donor-centered market place. There are two powerful questions that, when coupled with a sincere expression of thanks, can go a really long way in deepening relationships and increasing comfort and confidence in fundraising at the same time. What are those questions?
To say I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the early interest and support Stillwater Strategy Partners has seen from friends, community leaders and prospective clients would be the understatement of 2021.
We set out on this journey with a clear intention to be of service to organizations at major crossroads in their lifecycles, and it seems that many of our colleagues feel like the non-profits they lead are at exactly these kinds of transformative moments.
One of the most common questions that comes up as folks want to know more about this consulting practice is: “where did the name come from?” I’m happy to share. Stillwater Strategy Partners as a name was formed at the intersection of three influences: a stunningly beautiful Montana river, a lovely children’s book series and a deeply engrained organizational intention.
In many of the development trainings we lead, we talk about how best to assess a donor’s likelihood of saying “yes” to an organization’s invitation to support them in their work. It can be equally helpful, though, to flip the dynamic and ask a different question: “what are donors looking for as they assess us and our appeal to them?”
Decades of experience, with the successes and failures that have come with it, have taught us that our most generous supporters tend to evaluate us across four different dimensions.
First, do I, as a prospective supporter, have a foundation of trust in the institution and its ability to deliver on its commitments OR do I have that base of trust with the person who has reached out to me? This initial and most important question speaks directly to the vital role of ongoing stewardship and the need for our governance leaders to embrace their roles as advocates and matchmakers.