An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Stewarding a donor


An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Stewarding a donor

What is stewardship? It’s the process by which a relationship is nurtured through communications and activities once a gift has been made. It’s about keeping a donor engaged between solicitations. Stewardship post gift is similar to cultivating a prospect before a solicitation has been made (see September blog post on IQCSS).

  1. Stay thank you – immediately and frequently.

Within 24 hours, call - or at the least send an email - thanking them for the donation. A formal thank you letter, signed by the principal or director, should be sent to the foundation within a week. If your school or program is a non-profit organization, be sure to include in the letter “No goods or services were provided in exchange for this contribution. XYZ School is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; EIN ##.”

For an even bigger impact, have some children in the program send a handwritten note. Don’t forget to send a card around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, to show your gratitude.

  1. Create a donor club or honor roll.

Ask the foundation if it would be ok to publicly acknowledge the donation on your website, social media or program brochure. Perhaps create a giving honor society segmented out by dollar amounts. For example:

GOLD LEVEL: $50,000 and above

SILVER LEVEL: $25,000-$49,999

BRONZE LEVEL: $10,000 - $24,999 and

COPPER LEVEL: $1,000 - $9,999

Invite the foundation to visit your program, take a picture with representatives at the wall and upload it to your webpage or newsletter. To be more memorable, place the picture in a frame and send to the foundation.

  1. Involve the funder in your activities

Invite the donor to visit your program to let them see how their donation is being put to good use. Prep your students and staff before-hand so they are comfortable discussing their thoughts on the program. Invite the foundation to other events including recitals and program open houses.

  1. Send a grant report/request for additional funding

Typically foundations require progress and/or final reports on the project. It’s critical to stay abreast of this reporting. Even if the foundation doesn’t require any formal reporting, it’s always good form to send at least a final report at the end of the grant period. Restate the problem that needed funding and share your outputs and results – positive and negative. Include updates on individual students who have gone through the program and what they got out of it.

To request second round funding, layout your next steps. Do you plan to increase the number of students from the previous year? If your request is larger than the previous year, spell out your fundraising plan – show the foundation that you are not relying solely on them. Outline your goals and activities to reach those objectives.

In closing, be memorable. Stewardship is a vital part of your fundraising program – as important as the solicitation.

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