6 top cultivation methods (AKA: Stewardship)

in Associations - Membership,Cultivation & Stewardship,Marketing for Nonprofits

Here are the six (6) top cultivation methods to building loyalty, retention, revenue, and the size of your list/file:


Carefully cultivate your precious friendship with donors & members.

1 – Stop talking like a nonprofit and start talking like a human.  Write in your own voice. 

2 – Focus on information your donors want and need so they’re more likely to keep supporting you.  Give them valuable and relevant updates, stories, and more.  This includes writing reader-centric copy.

[Associations: Focus on what your members want.]

3 – Say thank you.  Say it fast (i.e., the acknowledgement is in the mail within a week or less of receiving the gift). And don’t use a form letter.  Oh, and sprinkle some gratitude into all of your communications. 

[Associations: When members join, renew, or purchase a webinar, conference ticket, etc., say thank you fast …]

4 – Get personal. Get and keep accurate data so you can use the donor’s name, where they live, what they’re most interested in, how long they’ve supported you, etc. in your fundraising appeals, renewals, thank you letters … anywhere and everywhere you can. 

Go beyond their name and get personal.  As you do this you’ll also be more relevant which increases retention even more.

5 – Think like a donor [member]. For example: Design your website, Facebook page, etc. for how a donor thinks and wants to interact with you.

Start by eliminating jargon, making everything easy and obvious to THEM, and give them choices.

6 – Give and you shall receive.  Give them a sense that you care about more than their pocket book and you’ll receive their support in return.  Stated another way: Have plenty of emails, letters, text messages, tweets, and so on that are pure cultivation. All you do is share information. Zero “ask” is included (neither a hard, soft, nor an implied ask). 

Those are my top six.  Needless to say there are more cultivation methods.  But in my opinion these ought to be the heart and soul of your stewardship program. 

One more tactic to mention is LISTENING.  Social media ― Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. ― is an ideal place to monitor and listen.  Inbound calls to your nonprofit are another source of intell.  What are donors and members talking about?  What are they concerned about?

You can gain enormous insight and understanding of your donors [members] by listening and then ACTING on what you learn.

What are your top 2 or 3 cultivation methods?  What would you add to this list? Share in the comment box below.

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Want more donors or members? — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
September 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm
Direct Mail Won't Die - Especially When Personalized Like This — Karen Zapp - Nonprofit Copywriter
July 23, 2013 at 11:05 am

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