Cultivation & Stewardship

3 Ways To Practice Donor Stewardship For Year-End Success

It can be easy to put off donor stewardship efforts, but prioritizing relationships now helps ensure successful fundraising for Year-End and the new year.

As Year-End draws near, your to-do list probably seems endless and days go by in the blink of an eye. You’re preparing annual reports, sending donor thank-you notes, proposing new budgets, orchestrating board meetings, and getting ready for the biggest giving day of the year. It’s a busy and stressful, but still incredibly exciting time of year for nonprofits. 

In the midst of the November and December hustle and bustle, it can be tempting to put off donor stewardship and retention efforts until January. However, prioritizing relationship-building with your biggest supporters now goes a long way toward ensuring a successful End-of-Year and building a strong foundation for next year’s fundraising. 

Shrinking donor retention rates cost nonprofits millions over time, but for many nonprofit fundraisers, accessing the holistic information needed to start a conversation with a donor who hasn’t yet given for the year (such as their lifetime giving summary, or whether they’ve recently supported the organization in other ways, such as volunteering) is an uphill battle with technology built to manage data and transactions, but not relationships. Interaction and conversation with supporters is easily one of the most critical touchpoints for your nonprofit’s stewardship and retention efforts, especially given that only around 40% of donors come back year over year. Here are 3 simple ways you can practice strong donor stewardship during Year-End:

Download: Your must-have year-end checklists (2 in 1!)

1. Acknowledge holistic contributions

Donors are used to receiving Year-End acknowledgements which thank them for their contributions over the course of the year, but how many of those donors have contributed to your organization in non-monetary ways, including volunteering their time, offering in-kind gifts, or introducing their friends, family, or professional network to your organization? Showing your supporters that you appreciate all of the ways they have supported your work in 2022 is a great way to stand out from the crowd of nonprofits vying for their attention this year, as well as starting 2023 off on a positive note. 

2. Understand your donors’ connections

For many donors, the holiday season is all about spending time and connecting with their family and community, so it’s an especially important time to ensure that you’re able to address families in the way that they prefer. Some couples give together and some giveseparately. Gifts from a family foundation may have been championed by multiple family members. Making sure that you are prepared to accurately reflect your donors connections with each other in your annual acknowledgements is an important part of showing donors that you’ve spent time and effort on your relationship with them. 

3. Interact (don’t just transact) with supporters

Between Giving Tuesday and Year-End, active donors will see a lot of appeals for their contributions in the final months of the year. While there is certainly nothing wrong with asking for money, ensuring that your communications are diverse and offer opportunities for supporters to feel like they are part of a 2-way conversation (rather than simply a one-sided transaction) demonstrates that your organization values them as partners in your work, not just as human ATMs. Simply asking “how are you,” sending holiday cards, or even sending out donor surveys about their favorite aspects of your work in 2022 or what they’re most excited about in 2023 goes a long way toward building committed, loyal donor relationships. 


In today’s digital age, nonprofits deserve technology built to reflect the way you work and prioritize the things most important to you. Instil reimagines the way that nonprofit technology can look and function for modern relationship management, and was built to be that solution for your nonprofit. Our holistic platform can help you and your team:

  • Optimize interactions and build strong relationships with donors, with easy access to a 360-degree view of a donor’s impact on your organization, including time, money, and network 
  • Cultivate lasting engagement at scale, with solutions for easily managing and stewarding relationships with your entire supporter community 
  • Access donor information and stewardship tools wherever you are, on a completely mobile-first platform

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. We’re actively iterating new features every day. Everything we do is designed to bring clarity, confidence, and connection to your work. 

If you, like so many of the nonprofits we know, are struggling with systems that aren’t helping you authentically connect and interact with your supporters, let’s make 2023 the year that your work is supported and empowered by technology instead of hindered by it. 

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