In our recent Water Cooler Chat, we talked about how to automate stewardship to some extent. We Staupellians are passionate about automation because it gives us time for creative work.
Traditionally, a variety of cultures and religions see this time of year as the time to reconnect with family and give gifts. Some countries also celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday, starting off a string of winter holidays that go through to January 6, which is traditionally Saint Distaff Day or the day that everyone returns to their spinning wheels (and distaffs).
Being connected is a human need.
Automating stewardship not only reduces mindless letter processing time but also makes sure that the labor gets done on time. If you want to lose a donor, forget to thank him for his last gift after years of thanking him promptly. If you want to lose a big donor, neglect to invite her to the president’s holiday party.
And that thought takes us back to the need for automation:
Automating stewardship not only reduces mindless letter processing time, but also makes sure that the labor gets done on time. If you want to lose a donor, forget to thank him for his last gift after years of thanking him promptly. If you want to lose a big donor, neglect to invite her to the president’s holiday party.
Systems that we adopt to make fundraising easier should also make stewardship, cultivation, and communication more effective and consistent.
We need to use our systems for the best service to our audience, not just for our own convenience. However, reducing our own administration is a way to provide us time and headspace to focus on those helpful personal messages to the most important among our audience members.
A mentor once explained to me that it is important to answer every complaint letter. She told me that her mentor taught her that. Imagine, though, the people who don’t share their complaints but do feel slighted by some system change that reduced the frequency or quality of the communication that they receive from your organization.
In other words, you can’t demote someone’s stewardship if she is giving the same every year. You have to keep the promise of appreciation at the same level as the donor’s giving despite your organization’s staff or systems changes.
What is a good way to do that?
Well, where I am, we are entering a holiday season that will last a month and a half. Chances are our clients will have staff (especially management) taking time off. Our clients’ systems and time will not be under as much pressure as they are during non-holiday months.
When I worked in an office, I used this time to literally clean off my desk, clean out my Documents folder on my computer, and clear the clutter out of my email folder. You can, if you are given the grace of quiet office time, use this time to build one automation step into your stewardship or cultivation system. You will be thankful to yourself for years to come.