Stewardship: Breaking Free from the Ask-and-Repeat Model

One of the things I love most about animal welfare donors is their passion and loyalty to help improve the lives of animals no matter what the outside world is facing. This has never been more apparent than in the last 12 months, as donors have poured their hearts into the organizations they choose to support.  

Despite having no direct tie to COVID, our animal welfare partners saw new donors increase by 17.8% year over year. Reactivated donor counts were also up 12.1%. 

This generosity has underlined an opportunity for animal welfare organizations to strengthen their ties with these donors.

After a year of unwavering support, consider this: Are you taking your donors for granted? Without the proper stewardship practices in place, they may feel like you are. 

This year is a pivotal one when it comes to stewardship. Between new technologies and a wave of new donors, it’s time for animal welfare organizations to reassess and refocus on their stewardship practices. 

Moving away from outdated practices

For years, organizations have relied on the traditional ask-and-repeat model to raise money. But today’s donors want more than just fundraising ask after fundraising ask. 

They’ve supported your organization through tough times and want recognition and deeper relationships because of it. The organizations they choose to stand by will be the ones that make this a priority. 

Stewardship is an essential piece of this puzzle. 

You may be thinking, “Our resources are already stretched thin, how can we possibly steward and give attention to this many donors effectively and efficiently?”

That’s where technology comes into play. 

Using technology to modernize stewardship practices

When done right, stewardship leads to retention, upgrades, and deep, meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, time and resources often make achieving stewardship success a challenge. But, by prioritizing stewardship and leveraging new innovative tactics, your organization can give donors the relationships they’re craving. 

With new technology at your fingertips, thanking and stewarding donors in a purposeful way is a whole lot easier. 

There are tools out there that allow nonprofit organizations to partner with vendors to send handwritten thank-you notes, conduct thank-you calls, and even create personalized video messages that can be used in email or on social media. 

By leveraging this technology, organizations can marry best practices with innovative ideas and begin rethinking the way they steward donors. In the long run, this commitment will not only keep your donors coming back for more but will also move them up the giving pyramid. 

There are many other things that go into building an effective stewardship program. We’re hosting an upcoming webinar in partnership with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement on Thursday, May 6, from 3-4 pm ET, titled Stewardship: Breaking Free from the Ask-And-Repeat Model. I’ll be joined by experts from Wayside Waifs and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and we’ll share more about stewarding your donors, including tactics for speaking to mid-major donors, and the technology you can use to build stronger connections with them.

I hope to see you there! 



Image: Wayside Waifs


David Miller

David Miller is Senior Vice President at RKD Group, a leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. He brings more than two decades of animal welfare experience to help organizations craft their fundraising strategies for success. Prior to joining RKD in 2011, David spent 14 years working at animal welfare organizations, including a stint as CEO at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.


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