Nonprofit Stewardship: Why It’s Important


Donor retention is an ongoing campaign, and stewardship is the most important tool to be successful. Major donors have a higher retention rate than small donors. According to, donors who give less than $100 have a retention rate of 19.1% and donors who give $1000-$5000 have a retention rate of 31.46%. Many non profits mistakenly think that this is confirmation that they should focus their resources on stewardship of major donors. When in fact they have the cause and effect reversed; the lack of stewardship of small donors is the very reason they have such a high churn rate. The high retention rate among major gifts donors is proof that stewardship works. If non profits were to steward all of their donors at the level they steward their major donors they should expect to see similarly high retention rates across segments often resulting in millions of extra dollars raised.

Article Sections:

  1. What is Stewardship?
  2. Goals of Stewardship
  3. Stewardship on Donor Retention
  4. Creating a Stewardship Program
  5. Examples of Stewardship Mail


What is Stewardship?

The objective of nonprofit stewardship is to nurture your relationship with donors and community members and the goal is to maintain good retention rates across giving segments. Stewardship is how nonprofits reach out and stay connected to patrons. Behind the scenes, stewardship involves collecting donor data, storing it within a CRM, and establishing a robust donor segmentation system. From the supporter’s perspective it involves many touch points reminding donors about the impact that they’re having, expressing gratitude in a meaningful way, as well as introducing them to the lives that they are touching while supporting the cause.

What is Stewardship

Goals of Stewardship

To practice good stewardship requires keeping donors informed about the allocation of their donations and giving them satisfaction that funding is being used effectively and efficiently. Following up with a thank you message after donations is an excellent way to show gratitude. Showing gratitude is one of the cornerstones of developing relationships with donors. Stewardship is never ending and should always be in the process of being improved.

Donor Retention

Stewardship on Donor Retention

Stewardship is key to retaining donors. Retaining donors is also more cost efficient than gaining new donors. Stewardship takes time, money, and effort but it is worth it. Nurturing relationships with your big as well as your small donors is important. uses a pyramid to represent the levels of donors, and you can use it as a visual tool to guide your stewardship decisions. At the base of the pyramid (you can think of this as the foundation) are occasional donors, volunteers, and others who help in your community. This level of participants is essential for your nonprofit to work day to day, so stewardship is very important. In the middle are recurring and annual donors, which is where a large portion of your funding comes from. Then at the top are major gift and planned gift donors, which we mention above could have a high return rate. Use this analogy of donors to base where and how much you invest your stewardship.


Another framework is the activist ladder which employs stewardship to elevate volunteers into occasional givers, occasional givers into recurring donors, and recurring donors into major gift givers.


Creating a Stewardship Program

Stewardship is a strategy, so you need to plan a program. Build a robust stewarding team with these key roles: Director of donor relations,  Stewardship officer, Relationship manager. With a strong team performing the shared duties of stewardship, a lot can be accomplished.

Organize your donor data into a CRM system to implement donor segmentation, so you can approach your interactions with members with authenticity. With an organized system of your donors information, you can enforce a system that thanks donors when they give a gift. Keeping the donor pyramid in mind, stewardship efforts can be based on need and the gift size.


Highlight donor recognition. Show gratitude. Make your people feel a part of your organization:

  • Curate a portal on your organization’s website that acts as a donor appreciation page that gives members the option to show that they have donated when they contribute to the cause.
  • Make sure to refer to donors by their preferred named via their preferred method of communication (eg. phone, mail, email, etc).
  • Aim to stay in contact with all donors, even inactive donors.
  • Plan to run campaigns that focus on your mission and how donors take part in the cause

Set goals that are achievable. There are a few points to aim for in your stewardship program: 

  • Retaining a certain number of new donors based on a specific campaign
  • Receiving bigger donations from a specific section of donors
  • Having a increased response rate on account of your program

Setting goals are a great incentive for your team to work towards and are also a way of making improvements to your strategy. You can learn a lot from the results and you can change your strategy as you go.

Stewardship relies on communication, so your stewarding team should organize a communication strategy. This strategy should cover when you will contact donors, plan the contents of each communication piece, communicate upcoming events, letting members know about volunteer opportunities, provide concise and well organized program information, and present relevant stories of people who are part of your organization. All donors are important and need different kinds of engagement, so plan to have a specific strategy for lapsed donors.

Stewardship Package Yellow _R2 copy

Examples of Stewardship Mail

Stewardship is a category of communication. To reiterate, stewardship is about nurturing relationships and maintaining donors. It is like a conversation, you are just trying to stay connected and have wholesome interactions with donors. Stay away from asking for donations and remain on the side of gratitude. In a previous article: 10 pieces of mail to send each year, we have highlighted below examples of stewardship mail.


Stewardship Letter: You would send a stewardship letter to them after they have donated, to keep them informed about how their gift is being used. It often includes an impact report, newsletter or other information.

Thank you Card: You should include in your thank you card: A personalized thank you message, an appealing design, a handwritten note, a signature from a real person, and contact information.You should not include an ask of any kind. This is an opportunity to show gratitude and strengthen the relationship between your donor and your brand, not to ask for more money (though don’t be surprised if your thank you note generates a second gift).

Impact report: The purpose of impact reports (which can sometimes take the form of annual reports, quarterly reports, etc…), are to communicate the progress made helping the people or advancing the cause that your organization is supporting.

Lapsed Donor Letter: Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. Simply the act of reminding them that their support is needed can be enough to reactivate a critical mass of your lapsed donors. Others may require reasons as to why they should give, and why now. Be sure to include urgency in your lapsed donor appeal, as well as specifics.

Donor Anniversary Card: A donor anniversary card celebrates a past gift, which has the simultaneous effect of promoting gratitude – like a thank you card – and reminding donors that their support is needed – like a lapsed donor letter. One of the reasons that these cards are so effective is that people tend to behave seasonally, and whatever triggered their generosity at this time last year is likely to do so again this year. The focus should be on celebrating your donor for their past gift, while thanking them for their implied future support.



Stewardship is about sustaining your relationship with all your donors. Each type of donor plays an important role in supporting your nonprofit organization. Continually investing in and improving your stewardship efforts will have an outsized impact on engagement as well as impact.

Traditionally, stewardship has required a large investment of resources and time, which has made it difficult for smaller organizations and leaner teams to extend good stewardship past a few large donors.

Postalgia strongly believes in giving the major gifts experience to ALL donors employing personalized handwritten mail, which has been shown to re-engage lapsed donors, increase retention rates, and increase gift amounts. Contact us today to discuss your next mail campaign.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

10 Pieces of Mail your Nonprofit should be Sending Each Year


Get these 10 pieces of mail out per year, and your retention rates will rise! A significant benefit to direct mail is its customizability to creating authentic communication with members of your community.

According to, email response rates are extremely low. So low that they don’t even reach 1%. On average the email response rate is 0.1%, online display marketing is 0.2%, and paid search is 0.6%. Direct mail has a higher response rate average of 5.3%. Direct mail impact can be even higher than the response rates imply, as direct mail can also increase online giving.



Solicitation Letter

The solicitation letter requests donations, contributions, or volunteers from the recipient. This letter is properly addressed to the addressee, clearly states who or which organization it is from, then goes into detail about the purpose of this solicitation and how the recipient can take action. This letter acts as a vehicle to describe the “ask” , such as the upcoming fundraising event. The fundraising event details that should be mentioned are, the name of the event, the purpose, who is sponsoring the event, the date, the venue, and any other important details. Always ensure to include details on how the recipient can be a part of the event or ways to donate to the cause.

Here is a solicitation newsletter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: introduce your organization and summarize your mission
  6. Second Paragraph: state the details of the fundraising event
  7. Third paragraph: request an ask in the form of: attendance to event, donation, volunteers
  8. Fourth paragraph: Let them know you are open to being contacted and include contact information
  9. Fifth paragraph: Express gratitude in advance
  10. Complimentary close (Warm Regards,)
  11. Handwritten signature above your name
  12. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)




An event invitation can be paired with your solicitation letter if the contents of the letter talks about an upcoming event. Take care to have an eye catching design that is easy to read and accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide).

What to include in your invitation:

  1. Name of event
  2. Date and time
  3. Location
  4. RSVP details
  5. Your organization’s name
  6. Any sponsors
  7. Key event details
  8. Any other important information
  9. Contact information



Stewardship Letter

Stewardship is about building the relationship you have with donors and maintaining open communication. You would send a stewardship letter to them after they have donated, to keep them informed about how their gift is being used. By being transparent about the allocation of funds, it allows donors to feel more involved and connected to your organization. Your goal is to provide them with reassurance that their gift is making an impact and meets their expectations and intentions.


Here is a stewardship newsletter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: Mention how you have received their gift, the gift amount, express organization’s gratitude
  6. Second paragraph: Quick summary of mission statement, explain how funds will/have been used
  7. Third paragraph:  Authentic statement of gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  8. Fourth paragraph: Let them know you are open to being contacted and include contact information
  9. Complimentary close (Thank You,)
  10. Handwritten signature above your name
  11. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)

*Important Tip: Never ask for donations in your stewardship endeavours.



Holiday Card Yellow

Holiday cards are at the top of the list of most important pieces of mail to send out each year. According to, their 2023 charitable giving statistics report, shows that 30% of giving happens in December. So make sure to be on schedule and create beautifully designed cards that your recipients would want to put on display. Add the personal detail of curating handwritten messages. Be clear on how they can give, whether that be via digital platforms or filling out a pledge card.



Impact Report

The purpose of impact reports (also known as annual reports), are to communicate the progress made helping the people your organization is supporting. According to a case study by Katie Boswell and Sarah Handley from, there are 5 areas you should include in your impact report: need, activities, outcomes, evidence, and lessons learnt.

Need: What are the problems your organization is trying to make an impact on?

Activities: How is your organization addressing these problems?

Outcomes: What progress have these activities made on the problems?

Evidence: What evidence do you have to show you have made an impact?

Lessons learned: How/what can you improve in the future?

Impact reports can take many forms from a folded booklet to a one page piece. To ensure your recipients are reading the report, make sure you are designing it in a way that catches their attention.


Here are some tips for the design:

  1. Be consistent with your organizations brand guidelines
  2. Write your report with intention
  3. Make sure the typography is accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide)
  4. Include eye catching imagery
  5. Include a contact information sections
  6. Include a way to donate section



Thank You Card Yellow

Thank you cards are an essential part of good stewardship practices. The bottom line is, when you receive a donation, a thank you message should be sent back. Some helpful tips to consider when writing a thank you card, personalized thank you message, no donation ask, appealing design, make it handwritten, include a signature, and contact information. The structure of a thank you card is similar to a thank you letter, the difference is this one is condensed.


Here is a thank you card format:

  1. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  2. First paragraph: Acknowledge how you have received their gift, the gift amount, express organization’s gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  3. Second paragraph: Quick summary of mission statement, explain how funds will/have been used (1-2 sentences)
  4. Third paragraph:  Another authentic statement of gratitude (1 sentence)
  5. Complimentary close (Warm Regards, )
  6. Handwritten signature above your name



Pledge Card _ Reply Envelope Blue

Those who work in the nonprofit sector are no stranger to pledge cards and return/reply envelopes. They are a great way to secure consistent, long-term commitments from donors. Pledge cards are also a great way to collect your donors information for donor segmentation. The standard sections to fill out include: first and last name, email address, phone number, home address, and pledge amounts. It is also a good idea to have a section that summarizes your mission statement and how giving impacts the cause.



Lapsed Donors

There is the constant struggle to prevent lapsed donors, and sending out personalized lapsed donor letters is good stewardship practice. The type of language you use is important when you communicate with lapsed donors. Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. Even if they only donated one time, take the opportunity to highlight that and use encouraging words. Make sure to stay away from language which might make them feel guilty and set a positive tone.


Here is a lapsed donor letter format:

  1. Organization name and address
  2. Date
  3. Name and address of recipient
  4. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  5. First paragraph: Mention that you consider them part of the community and they have donated in the past, express gratitude
  6. Second paragraph: Summarize your mission statement and explain that help is still needed
  7. Third paragraph: Provide ways to donate or participate in the community
  8. Fourth paragraph: express gratitude again
  9. Complimentary close (Thank you again, )
  10. Handwritten signature above your name
  11. PS. message (optional, but encouraged)



volunteers like donors


A donor anniversary card is similar to a lapsed donor letter. It has the same intentions; the difference is that the contents of this card is like a condensed version of the lapsed letter. This option is a less intense way to practice inactive donor stewardship. It also feels more personal, especially if there are personalized details like the message being handwritten.


Here is a donor anniversary card format:

  1. Salutation (Dear Salutation, )
  2. First paragraph: Mention that you consider them part of the community and they have donated in the past, express gratitude (1-2 sentences)
  3. Second paragraph: Quick summary of  your mission statement and explain that help is still needed (1-2 sentences)
  4. Third paragraph:  Provide ways to donate  (1 sentence)
  5. Complimentary close (Warm Regards, )
  6. Handwritten signature above your name




The end of year report is similar to the impact report, in that it is communicating the progress made toward the cause wrapped up and summarized. This report can be sent out at the end of the year, or in the early new year. You can follow the same touch-points that were mentioned above: need, activities, outcomes, evidence, and lessons learned.

Here are some tips for the design:

1. Be consistent with your organizations brand guidelines

2. Write your report with intention

3. Make sure the typography is accessible (Clear Print Accessibility Guide)

4. Include eye catching imagery

5. Include a contact information sections

6. Include a way to donate section


This article provided 10 pieces of mail with their accompanying descriptions. We also provided tools to get a preliminary start to creating these pieces, so you can add them to your annual direct mail strategy.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

Prevent Lapsed Donors

Article Highlights:

  • Pay attention to you donor retention
  • Invest in stewardship
  • Implement a donor segmentation system
  • Focus on your Annual Fund Strategy



Those who work in the nonprofit sector know that donor retention is an ongoing obstacle. As retention rates continue to plummet, lapsed donor prevention efforts are a top priority.

Referencing the 2022 Quarterly Fundraising Report, “Retention is expected to decrease by -3.1% year-over-year, following last year’s -7.4% decrease…Year-to-date retention of donors from last year stands at 29.9% in Q3” (, pg. 11).



To calculate your donor retention, use the formula below! Donor retention is tough, but the good news is that it is easier to maintain repeat donors than it is to find new donors. With attention to the details and hard-work, you will be able to have your donors keep coming back. According to, if you can improve your donor retention by 10%, you can reach up to a 200% increase in projected incoming donations.




Investing in something requires allocating funds and also devoting your time and effort. In the nonprofit sector, stewardship is everything. It is key to building strong relationships and making donors feel important and seen. You can do this by showing them how their involvement in your community impacts the people and cause. Be upfront by showing them your successes and your struggles. Hone in on your mission with sincerity and authenticity by taking personal approaches to communication efforts.

Invest Stewardship



We talk about this a lot. We highly encourage an in-depth donor segmentation system. Donor segmentation organizes your donors into groups based on their information, which builds your portfolio of donor data. You can use donor data to plan meaningful experiences and authentic communication between you and donors. By getting to know your donors, you can be strategic with your interactions by providing ways to participate in your community that are relevant to them.


It is a give and take as you build relationships. The more you invest in stewardship, the more information you will collect to better understand your constituents’ motivations and interests with your organization. So as your donor data grows, keep it organized in a solid CRM (constituent relationship manager).



An annual fund strategy speaks to all the money that a nonprofit organization raises throughout the year. This fund is the foundation that allows your organization to maintain day to day operations, while running special programs. The annual fund strategy is top priority! Here are your best annual fund strategy practices.


Put your team together

Coordinate a dedicated group that’s soul purpose is to organize and implement a plan throughout the year. This is an ongoing process. It is good to build a team that has at least 2-3 people, so that all jobs do not fall on one person. The various responsibilities on the team are: prospect research, fundraising events, community member outreach, and direct asks coordinator.


Conduct prospect research

Prospect research identifies donors that have the capacity and financial resources to make major gifts. With that information, you can make the decision to focus more stewardship on these donors. Prospect research can also reveal and predict who and how much they will give. Research should be a big step in your strategy.

Here’s what to look for in your research:

A donor’s previous giving history with your nonprofit and other organizations

The donor’s personal background (values, interests, hobbies, etc.)

Wealth indicators (amount given in previous donations, real estate, stock ownership, etc.)

If donor is frequently philanthropically-motivated in other ways (if they frequently volunteer with nonprofits or have served on a board of directors)

Invest in fundraising software

You will need a robust system of tools to collect your research. It is important to build an online platform that is curated for community members to donate to, which ties into ensuring that your mobile giving interface is optimized. Social media upkeep is a big job and requires a lot of time and effort, but done well can be very useful in staying connected to your community. Consider investing in an email and text-to-donate program.

Build a schedule

It is important to stay organized and plan out a schedule of staff and resources for every campaign. If you know exactly what you need, you will have an easier time initiating a campaign instead of pulling things together at the last minute.

Important schedule items:

  1. Campaign start and end dates
  2. Fundraising event dates
  3. Important administrative dates, such as tax deadlines
  4. When each phase of your marketing strategy begins and ends

Plan to show your gratitude to donors, employees, and volunteers

Saying thank you is highly recommended for successful stewardship practices. It shows that you value those who volunteered and donated to your cause. It is also a great opportunity to add authenticity and personality to your communication efforts. This is the way to build relationships. It is as easy as sending a message via phone, email, or a personal handwritten note.



The bottom line for preventing lapsed donors is maintaining or raising your donor retention. We covered important areas for you to consider focusing on to make that happen:

  1. Pay attention to you donor retention
  2. Invest in stewardship
  3. Implement a donor segmentation system
  4. Focus on your Annual Fund Strategy

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How to Get Lapsed Donors to Give Again


Lapsed donors should be a substantial focus for non profits in 2023. There have been troubling statistics that show that all retention rates are down. Organizations are losing donors and strong stewardship efforts are more important than ever. This article will provide some advice on how charities can reignite their relationship with lapsed donors.


According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), the Q3 2022 (JAN 1, 2022 – SEP 30, 2022) reports that all types of donor retention rates are down. New Donors -14.8%, Repeat Donors -5.4%, and Recapture Donors -15%.





A lapsed donor is someone who has donated to your organization in the past but has not donated again for a significant amount of time. The average amount of time that is considered lapsed is 365 days. A lapsed donor could be any type of donor: major, small, micro, and one time. There are many reasons why a donor becomes lapsed: a change in their giving limits, priorities change, they experience a lack of stewardship efforts, or they simply haven’t been asked for donations. The good news is that it is possible to have a lapsed donor give again! Furthermore, it is easier to reengage a lapsed donor than to find a new donor because you have already built a relationship with them.

We always recommend donor segmentation and making sure your donor data is stored and organized, so you should most definitely include a segmented list of lapsed donors. This way any lapsed donor outreach can be personalized and more authentic, increasing the chances that they will donate again.


find out why lapsed


Once you have established who your lapsed donors are, it is beneficial to determine why they became lapsed donors. There are a few ways to collect that information. You can send out a survey, invest in a deceased suppression process, and inspect the data from your CRM to determine patterns that could be the reason your donors became inactive.


communication 1


Stewardship is key, so always say thank you for any size gift. The type of language you use is important when you communicate with lapsed donors. Remember that inactive donors don’t think of themselves as inactive, they see themselves as having previously donated to the cause. That is a good thing though! Even if they only donated one time, take the opportunity to highlight that and use encouraging words. Make sure to stay away from language which might make them feel guilty and set a positive tone. One course of action you can take is to send out a “we miss you” message/letter.


Positive Phrases To Use:

We miss you

You make a difference

You’re part of the change

You make an impact

Let’s reconnect!

You’re part of the community!


Another course of action you can take is to send out  a survey that identities when and how often you should communicate with them:

Once a year

4x a year

Once a month

By email only

By phone only

By direct mail only


invest in stewardship


Remember your donor detention skills! Maintain a personalized approach, and avoid cookie-cutter looking stewardship. You can do that by using your donor segmentation lists and base your solicitation efforts on your inactive donors demographic.

Keep in mind that life changes, people move, change their names, change their phone numbers and even their email addresses. So make sure to do your best to keep their information up to date. Communicate with lapsed donors to check their information in your system and if possible, provide a way to update it.

As we mentioned earlier, if a lapsed donor only gave one time, they still have an affiliation with your organization. To nurture that relationship you can keep them up to date. Send them newsletters, impact reports, community testimonies, and success stories multiple times a year. It goes a long way to take the time and care to design readable, organized, and on brand pieces of literature.


dont be afriad to ask


With the use of all your stewardship efforts, it’s time to seal the deal and make an actual ask! Keep in mind, you are not limited to asking for just donations. You can entice them back into the community by inviting them to an event as a guest or even as a volunteer. Remember that one of the reasons a donor becomes inactive is because they don’t have the capacity to donate at that moment, but you can stay positive that they still want to be part of the organization. Remember to “TREAT YOUR VOLUNTEERS LIKE FUTURE DONORS”.

In 2023 there are a plethora of ways to get in touch with your lapsed donors, email, phone, text, and direct mail. To really invest in stewardship and maintain an authentic connection, personalized and handwritten campaigns show inactive donors you appreciate their support.


What to include in your stewardship efforts:

A Positive Phrase

Newsletter keeping them up to date

An ask (Donation or way to be involved)

Donation card & reply envelope

A QR card leading to your website and donation page

An address to send cheques or letters to

Phone number

Names of communication representatives

Lots of gratitude



We had a discussion about turning your inactive donors to active once again. Once a donor becomes lapsed, there is still hope for their return because you already got over the hardest part which was their initial donation. In this article, we tackled what a lapsed donor is, how you can determine why they became inactive, communicating with lapsed donors, the importance of investing in stewardship, and how an ask can be more than just a donation, it can be asking to participate.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

How to Gain New Donors

According to the 2022 Third Quarter Fundraising Report (FEP), there has been an increase in donations by 4.7%, but a decrease in the number of donors by -7.1% a continuing trend. Nonprofits will have to rely on the bulk of their donations coming from fewer donors.




Consistent and reliable incoming funding is at risk. Although charitable giving increased in 2022, the number of donors decreased. It’s important in 2023 to make an effort to keep up your organization’s number of donors. We have covered Donor Retention in the past but now it is also mission critical to increase donation numbers by gaining new donors.

So let’s walk through how you can conduct prospect research, present social proof, reach out to one time and lapsed donors, and the importance of treating your volunteers like future donors.


prospect research


Prospect research can be referred to by a few names: donor prospecting, screening, or donor research. This research technique is used by major gift organizers, nonprofit fundraisers, and development teams. Their goal is to pinpoint high-impact donors inside and outside of a nonprofits donor pool.

Benefits of Prospect Research:

  1. EVALUATE DONORS: There could be potential major donors within your donor pool
  2. FIND NEW PROSPECTS: Expand your reach by researching for potential donors
  3. REVISE GIFT STRATEGY: By screening your prospects, you can build a robust gifting system based on donors that are more likely to donate
  4. ENHANCE FUNDRAISING ACTIVITIES: Analyze donor data to highlight fundraising trends to create successful activities
  5. DISCOVER CORPORATE GIVING OPPORTUNITIES: Discover donors with eligible corporate giving incentives such as – volunteer grants and matching gifts
  6. FILL GAPS IN DONOR DATA: Update outdated and empty donor information

Types of Prospects:

  1. Individual Donors: One time, annual, recurring
  2. Major Donors
  3. Corporate Donors
  4. Foundations

How to do prospect research:

  • In-house prospect research: Staff member or full-time research staff take on the responsibility of conducting prospect research
  • Work with prospect research consultant
  • Partner with prospect research screening company


social proof


Showing social proof is an authentic technique to attract new donors. In an article by Alfred Lua from, social proof is a psychological phenomenon when the actions of others give credit to the situation. For example: a potential donor is more likely to give to a charity that their friends also give to.

There are a few types of social proof: Expert, Celebrity, User, Crowd Wisdom, Friend Wisdom

5 types of social proof in the nonprofit industry with example:

Expert: Doctor who works for a hospital explaining allocation of donations and how it has helped patients
Celebrity: Public figure that has an affiliation with organization and donates on a regular basis
User: Community testimonials
Crowd Wisdom: Showing number of donors
Friend Wisdom: A friend that donates to a specific charity

Showcasing social proof can be done in a multitude of ways, whether you keep it simple and show more depth. You can include community testimonials in your direct mail campaign, post a video of a volunteer talking about their experience with your nonprofit on social media, or even have a recipient tell their story at a fundraising event. Storytelling  is perhaps the most powerful form of social proof. It can evoke emotion in potential donors that leads to them feeling more passionate about the cause.



reach out lapsed


Circling back to the statistic above proving that charitable giving increased in 2022, but the number of donors decreased. It is vital to be cautious if you only rely on a small percentage of major donors and to remember that small donors are important too. 

Make an effort to reach out to one time and lapsed donor because even one donation is the beginning of a relationship. It goes a long way to communicate to donors and let them know they helped out, and that they are a part of the cause. Nurturing your relationship to small donors will go a long way with maintaining incoming donations. Your solicitation endeavours to one time donors could turn them into recurring donors. Invest in your relationships with big and small donors.



volunteers like donors


Let’s not forget about the importance of volunteers! Your volunteers are potential prospects that could easily become new donors. They have an established relationship with your organization and have already displayed their passion and commitment to the cause. Always remember to follow up with your volunteers because they are what keeps your nonprofit organization going. By staying connected to your volunteers, you are strengthening the relationship and giving them a memorable experience with your organization. This goes a long way for their future as a donor.

Deliver a personalized follow up to your volunteers as a gesture of gratitude. There are various ways to communicate with volunteers, a phone call, an email, or a personalized handwritten letter or note. The more genuine, the better. Timing is also key, so ensure to follow up as soon as possible after an event or campaign.

What to include in a follow up:

  1. A heartfelt thank you
  2. Their impact on the cause
  3. A way to provide feedback (survey, email address, phone number, etc)


With the increase of giving but decrease in number of donors, donation stability is at risk in 2023. The focus this year should be on gaining new donors. The strategies we discussed are improving your donor data by conducting prospect research, presenting potential donors with social proof to show legitimacy, making an effort to maintain a relationship with lapsed and one time donors, and treating your volunteers like future donors.

Want to level up your direct mail? Contact us.

4 Tips to Increase Giving from Donors


Those working in the nonprofit sector understand the never ending need to keep donations coming in. Not only do you want a consistent flow of contributions, but preferably an increase. The purpose of this article is to provide you with 4 tips to increase donations. We will touch on the importance of implementing a donor segmentation system, how to communicate often, disclosing the impact of donations, and the benefit of asking!




There is statistical evidence that there has been an increase in giving over the past year. The National Philanthropic Trust shows data that in 2021, Americans donated $484.85 billion, corporations donated $21.08 billion, and foundations gave $90.88 billion. To review more “charitable giving statistics”, you can review this article by the NPT.




Donor segmentation is key to increasing donations because it allows you to keep information about your donors organized for you to use and form meaningful experiences and authentic communication between you and your donors. To build a donor database, you must use a CRM that includes features that support: list segmentation, measuring engagement, data analysis, and communication with donors. Check out this list of CRM softwares that are recommended for use by nonprofits.

There are a few categories that you want to segment your donor data: demographic, communication, donation track record, and interests. Using this information, you can send out campaigns that have personalized traits based on donor segmentation information. An example is sending out pre-filled donation asks or mailing a thank you letter that uses the donor’s name.

Donor segmentation increases donations and gets results!





We always say we’re going to stay in touch, but do we always follow through? Communicating with your patrons reminds them that they are a part of your organization. Life gets busy, and we forget about messaging that old friend or donating to an important cause, so don’t let your donors forget you exist!

There are many easy ways to communicate with your donors: posting on social media and sending out emails. Then there are the impactful ways to connect with donors by sending: personalized thank you letters, impact reports, and pledge cards accompanied by return envelopes. Always remember to include a way for your donors to stay in touch. This means including your organization’s contact information: address, phone number, email, and names of your communication team.




Being transparent about the allocation of donations is an assured way to increase giving. People appreciate honesty and authenticity. They want to see that their contributions to your organization are making an impact on the cause. Charts and facts have value and provide beneficial information to an impact report, and community testimonies are a way to show a deeper impact. Personal stories from volunteers, participants, and partners are great for highlighting impact and evoking emotions in donors.

Testimonies are a great way to get positive and structured feedback from those involved in your organization.


Here are a few questions you can ask when collecting testimonies:

  1. Why did you join our organization?
  2. How does being a part of our organization benefit you?
  3. What do you like about being a part of our organization?
  4. Do you see areas that need improvement? What are they?
  5. Are you happy with the progress our organization has made to the cause?
  6. Do you tell your friends and family about your involvement?
  7. Can we use your testimonials with attributions in our communications?

TIP: Highlight the impact of specific donation amounts




An effective strategy to increase donations is to simply…ask. Nonprofits are in the business of collecting donations, so it is to be expected by participants that they will be asked to give. There are ways to ask for donations that make it easier to donate.

Keeping in mind your donor segmentation system:

  1. Provide preset giving levels based on demographics
  2. Encourage automatic monthly donations
  3. Be transparent about popular giving amounts
  4. Mail out regular pledge cards accompanied by reply envelope
  5. Include a QR code that leads to a donation webpage on literature and correspondence as much as possible
  6. Show the specific impact potential of each ask amount in other words what each ask amount can be spent on



To wrap things up, we have discussed 4 ways to increase giving from donors. Primarily, you want to implement a donor segmentation system, and use donor data to create meaningful experiences with participants. Next you want to make sure you are communicating often via direct-mail, social media, email, etc. Within your communications, it is beneficial to be transparent about the impact of donations with facts and figures, but also provide community testimonies to show social proof. Ultimately, the most obvious but effective method of increasing donations is to simply ask!


Nonprofits value authenticity and personal connections. A great way to increase donations by creating authentic interactions is with handwritten notes!

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Donor Segmentation


Want to increase donor retention? Donor segmentation is the key!

In the first part of this article we will discuss donor segmentation and how it affects donor retention. Donor retention is key to a consistent incoming flow of donations. In the second part, we discuss collecting donor data and using a suitable CRM software to organize your donor database.



Donor segmentation is an organizational system that groups your donors into categories based on their information. This will help you create more meaningful experiences and authentic communication between you and your donors. This allows you to get to know your donors, and create streamlined interactions when it comes to informing them on ways to participate in your organization that are relevant to them.

Donor segmentation is important for personalizing your approach with donors. By keeping track of specific details of donors, you can build authentic communication systems that will increase the chances of them participating in your organization.



Donor segmentation increases donor retention, which is key to growing fundraising efforts. When you have the resources to maintain personal relationships with those affiliated with your organization, you will be able to continue to earn reliable revenue for your cause. Retention rates are on the lower side in the nonprofit sector. According to, on average, retention rates are at about 45% for nonprofits. For-profit businesses have average retention rates between 63% – 84% and can reach rates of 90% – 95% when they are actively making efforts to keep their retention rates high (Love, 2022).

Retention rates are already working against nonprofits. So it is vital to make all efforts possible to keep retention at a sustainable level. This is where donor segmentation comes into play, because it is making the most out of donor data, and ensuring you are getting donors to continue participating in your organization.

To get more information about donor retention, check out this article: Donor Retention: Structure Your Fundraising Operation for Success.



It is obvious to those that work in the nonprofit sector that donors respond to and continue to donate when they feel recognized and connected to your organization. Adding to your donor database is very important if you want to maintain those relationships and stay on top of personalizing your interactions with your patrons. The goal of a nonprofit development professional is to seek prospective donors and maintain relationships with existing donors. Sustaining a robust system of donor segmentation will help you do just that!

As your relationship with donors builds, you will start to collect more information that specifies your constituents motivations and interests with your organization. Using more details, you can develop a database that segments your donors.

What kind of donor data should you be keeping track of? There are various areas that you should collect information from to create segmentation:


  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Income
  5. Education


  1. Contact Information
  2. Preferred way of communication (direct mail, email, phone, social media, events)
  3. Communication Efforts leading to donation

Donation Track Record:

  1. Amount Donated
  2. Date of Donation
  3. Frequency of giving
  4. Type of donation
  5. How long have they been giving
  6. Reason for giving


  1. Why are you a part of this organization?
  2. Where would you like donation dollars to be spent?
  3. What action would you like to see from our organization?
  4. Events Attended
  5. Interest in giving



The most important part of collecting your donors information is keeping the data organized. The way to do this is by investing in a CRM (constituent relationship manager). Storing information about your donors in a centralized system will allow multiple members of your outreach developing team to access donor data to develop a deeper understanding of your constituents, and build authentic relationships.

In an article from “The Importance of Donor Data and How to Use It Effectively”, Adam Weinger recommends a CRM that supports these 4 areas: list segmentation, measuring engagement, report and analyze data, and communication with donors (Weinger, 2019).

List Segmentation:

Categorizing your donors by their specific details such as: age, gender, wealth, location, etc

Measuring Engagement:

Having the ability to store and review the history of engagement of your donors. Seeing how often they engage, when they are more likely to donate, what encourages their action within your organization.

Report and Analyze Data:

Keep track of successful methods of engagement with your donors.

Communication with Donors:

Being able to communicate directly with your donors for discussions of fundraising efforts.



Wrapping up, we discussed the importance of donor segmentation and how it increases donor retention. Then we went into more detail on the specific information your nonprofit should collect from your donors to build a comprehensive donor database in a proficient CRM software.



This is only the beginning to building a thorough donor database! Check out this article that goes more in-depth about Donor Database for Nonprofits.



Love, J. (2022). Donor Segmentation | Comprehensive Guide + Tips For Success   [web log]. Retrieved 2022, from

Weinger, A. (2019, April 30). The importance of donor data and how to use it effectively. Retrieved  2022, from


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Establishing your Nonprofit Brand: 3 Brand Design Fundamentals


Establishing your nonprofit brand can be intimidating, but let’s start with some basics! This article discusses 3 vital design aspects to consider when designing your nonprofit brand. You will learn about important design fundamentals: logos, colours, and typography. Having a preliminary understanding of brand design, will help you and your designer use your brand assets and establish a distinct and cohesive nonprofit brand. Legitimizing the look and feel of your brand will inevitably bring recognition and success.


First off, what is a logo? A logo is made of text, shapes, and colours that indicates the purpose of your organization. Your logo is a key part of your brand because it is going to appear on all things that pertain to your organization’s charity work. Your logo is also a symbol that volunteers and donors will remember and use to differentiate you from other nonprofits.

It is common to want everything but the kitchen sink in your logo design, but that is not realistic and frankly, it’s bad design. You want your logo to be: simplistic, memorable, scalable, readable, and distinct.

Take a look at a few of these nonprofit logos. They are displayed in black and white to show the impact and recognizability of a good logo design, even with no colour. In the next section, we will discuss colour.



If you want to see more examples of logos, check out this article that shows 75 Top Nonprofit Logos.


Your logo will appear in many places such as: websites, impact reports, banners, fundraising material, documents, presentations, merchandise, and more. It’s important that you keep the appropriate logo file formats for use in digital and print media.

Before you read the next part, if you are not already familiar with Raster(pixel) vs. Vector files, check out this quick read article that explains the difference between the two.


Here are 4 common logo file formats to know:

PNG – Portable Network Graphic

File extension: LOGO.png

  • Raster file – Pixel based format
  • Can be compressed and decompressed without losing quality
  • Supports transparency
  • Easy to read and access, can be opened on computer, mobile, and tablets
  • Use on: website, blog, as favicon(icon that shows up in browser tab), presentations, letterhead on documents, social media profile, as an image (e.g. watermark on document)


SVG – Scalable Vector Graphic

File extension: LOGO.svg

  • Vector file format
  • Can be scaled as big or small as needed, without losing any quality
  • Supports transparency
  • Small file size compared to PNG and JPG
  • Editable on design software like Adobe Illustrator
  • Web-friendly XML language
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Should be used when sending your logo to a designer to make changes


EPS – Encapsulated PostScript

File extension: LOGO.eps

  • Vector file format
  • Can be scaled as big or small as needed, without losing any quality
  • Editable on design software like Adobe Illustrator and photoshop
  • Tricky to open in softwares other than Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop
  • Supports transparency
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Can be used when sending your logo to a designer to make changes, but make sure to check with your designer or printer first


PDF – Portable Document Format

File extension: LOGO.pdf

  • Can be vector or pixel-based, it depends on how the PDF was created originally
  • Easy to read and share
  • Supports transparency
  • Format is consistent on every device
  • Use on: print media, shirts, merchandise, stickers, labels, etc
  • Only editable on Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop


It can be intimidating to grasp file formats, so here is a resource that goes more in depth into the 4 common logo file formats.



Colours are important to establish to maintain a cohesive look and feel for your nonprofit brand. It is important to keep in mind that a good brand has no more than 4 colours. When choosing your colours, you will want a light colour for backgrounds, dark colour for text, a neutral colour, and a contrasting colour. You don’t have to choose 4 colours, but you shouldn’t have more than that.

This is Google’s colour palette, it follows these rules.




There is meaning associated with colours. If you are not sure where to begin when choosing your colours you can think about what certain colours mean.


Green – Light shades represent growth, freshness, eco-friendly. Dark shades represent wealth, money, and cash.

Yellow – Happiness, positivity, and welcoming attitude.

Blue – Light shades represent stability, openness, flow. Dark shades represent trust, security, and comfort.Red – Passion, excitement, and energy.

Purple – Creativity, spirituality, luxury.

White – Peace, purity, calming nature.

Black – Bold, serious, authoritative, elegant.


Circling back to the logos shown in the last section, take a look at how colour enhances logos.


After you have chosen your colours, you must keep a record of the specific HEX code, RGB values, CMYK values and Pantone® (PMS). This can be an intimidating concept, but your graphic designer will know what these are. Each colour format is used for different purposes.


Pantone® (PMS) and CMYK are for printing purposes.

HEX and RGB are for digital purposes.


This is how each colour format is listed for the specific blue Google uses.

HEX code: #4285F4

RGB Values: (66, 133, 244)

CMYK Values: (71, 47, 0, 0)

Pantone®: 279 C

Here is a link that shows the rest of Google’s colour palette



Font selection is another beast when it comes to establishing your nonprofit brand. There are an endless number of fonts out there.

To make it simple, here are a few tips you can use to make the process easier:

  • Choose a font that is different from your logo
  • Only use a serif or sans serif font (Serif: Bodoni, Sans Serif: Helvetica)
  • Make sure it is readable and legible
  • Get a designer to help guide you through font choices


There are a few options for how you can obtain the rights to use a font. You can either buy a font or find a free font. It is crucial if you are downloading a free font that it is free for commercial use. There are a lot of instances where you can download a font for free but it is NOT for commercial use.

List of places to buy fonts:

List of free font downloads:

* *

NOTE: Google Fonts ( is the best when it comes to free fonts. They are all open source, high quality, easy to download, and can be embedded directly into your website.



This article covered 3 basic design fundamentals: logos, colour, and typography. It touched on what a logo is and the various aspects you should consider when figuring out its design. There was also information on logo file formats and when to use them. The colours section talked about how colour enhances a nonprofit brand design and how to specify your brand colours for digital and print use. Finally, this article ended on typography, what you need to consider when choosing your fonts and where you can find them.

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How to Follow up with Volunteers


Acknowledging your volunteers is just as important as acknowledging your donors, and you can do that by sending out a follow up!

In this article we are going to be looking at why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. Volunteers are the powerhouse of the organization! Knowing how to send follow ups and how to make them effective is KEY. Sending out those follow ups as soon as you can will result in a good volunteer experience and increase the likelihood that volunteers will return for more work, and even become donors!




Following up with your volunteers is important because volunteers are what keeps your nonprofit organization going. Volunteers donate their time and effort for a cause as long as it provides them with the personal satisfaction of doing good for others as well as a positive network of individuals who all care deeply about the cause. It is not only courteous, but necessary to follow up with them to gain valuable feedback about their experience with your nonprofit and give them more opportunities to donate. Follow-ups help volunteers feel in the loop and keep them involved in the work.

Apart from helping with your nonprofit’s mission, volunteers also seek charity work to gain experiences, network, learn new skills, add to their resume, and more. Sending out follow ups to gain feedback is beneficial to your organization and to volunteers. You can then use that feedback to improve your programs and it will increase the likelihood of volunteer’s returning, sending referrals to your organization, and building relationships.

Once you have established good relationships with your volunteers, it could result in them turning into donors down the line!




Following up with your volunteers can be as easy as sending an email. The point is to maintain good communication. But it is a good idea to show effort in the way you follow up with them. The way to show effort can be evident in how you follow up and what you say in your follow up.


3 Points to Always Include in your Follow Up:

  1. Acknowledgment of Gratitude: saying thank you in a personal way

  2. Progress Made: letting them know how their efforts have helped the cause

  3. Include a Survey: to gain insight of their experience


Make sure when you follow up with your volunteers, it reflects that you spent time and effort in contacting them. Volunteers put their time and effort into helping your organization, so you should do the same! Handwritten and personalized notes are an excellent way to show volunteers that their contribution is valuable and recognized. You should make it easy for them to respond back to you by including your email, phone number, or social media information.




A good time to send a follow up is as soon as possible! Try to aim to get those follow ups out within one week of their experience. This is especially important when you want to gain feedback from your volunteers. This is because their experience will still be fresh in their mind. It will also add to their experience to get that extra thank you soon after they spent time volunteering. When you maintain good communication, it builds relationships. Strong relationships with your volunteers will turn into strong donor relationships! It is all about the long game!



To wrap things up, we covered why, how, and when to follow up with your volunteers. It is important because volunteers are essential to keeping operations running. A follow up can be sending an email to writing a letter, but remember to put in effort so that volunteers feel their work is being reciprocated. The sweet spot of sending out follow ups is within one week or as soon as possible.




Want to know how to increase your average donation amount? Here are 9 easy steps that will tell you just that!

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Authentic Communication with your Donors


The nonprofit sector is in the business of people-helping-people. What better motivates people-helping-people than being authentic!?

This blog contains vital information about maintaining authentic communication with your donors. The 3 main takeaways are: Be true and consistent, attend to your donors, and create personal experiences. Adding personalized and specific details to your communication methods will make all the difference.




All nonprofit organizations have a cause that they are passionate about. Before you communicate with your donors, you need to establish a set of values and beliefs that your organization follows. Make sure when you set up those values, you are being true to yourself and to your cause. To have authentic communication, you need to BE AUTHENTIC.

Once you identify your core principles, you must represent them in every message and any form of communication. You may not be popular with everyone, but at least you will be showing community members that you are true and consistent. The main point is to stick to your set of values and beliefs, but there are more Principles for Authentic Donor Communications that Build Relationships.



Make sure to put effort into focusing on your donors. Remember, without your donors you can’t support your cause! Maintain relationships with donors by consistently communicating and creating opportunities to connect with them.

There are various ways to stay connected with your donors and maintain authentic communication. You can schedule regular meetings in person or virtually to provide the opportunity to interact with them. This is the time to have discussions about your organization’s progress and get the opinion of the members. You can ask questions like: Why are you passionate about the cause? What is your preferred method of communication? How would you like to take action?

You can also connect with your donors by sending them information via digital and physical communication methods.



Social Media
Community Events
Impact Reports
Thank You Notes
Website Blog
Google Forms Questionnaire


The main focus should always be on your donors, so you can build authentic relationships.



To keep up with authentic communication, you can create personal experiences! How do you do that? Well, make sure to keep donor profiles and use their names when sending emails, newsletters, donation cards, impact reports, and postcards. It is also important to consistently send messages to donors and volunteers to let them know your organization is working hard for the cause.

A little bit of effort goes a long way, especially when you want to create personalized  experiences. Emails and text messages only go so far and are often overlooked, so it is important to seek other forms of communication. Sending handwritten note cards and direct-mail packages addressed to specific donors, tells your members that you value their support.



To summarize, figure out what your nonprofit is passionate about helping, stick to your values and beliefs, focus on including your donors, and organize personalized experiences that show your donors how much effort you put in.


Put the effort in and delight your donors with a handwritten note!

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