The Stewardship Tool

Many not-for-profits are still feeling their way into the social media
space. In some ways, we have it easier as causes are a tremendous
motivating force, and gives people common causes to rally around, be
it the arts, poverty, disease, or whatever is important to you. To be
certain, social media can make connections with those similarly
passionate souls in a way never before thought possible.

At the same time, the not-for-profit that has the resources to devote
to social media is not as rare as it used to be, but it can still
stand to improve. It’s not that you can’t find your favorite charity
on Facebook and possibly Twitter. It’s how to use those resources and
more in the most advantageous way possible that is still being

We’ve all seen some brilliant campaigns out there raising money. The
Red Cross’s efforts text campaign to help Haiti pulled in help from
the President himself, it was so powerful, and it raised awareness and
had raised over $30 million dollars just in the first 10 days, 14% by
those $10 texts.

I’ve personally never seen such an intense and moving video as The
Girl Effect
 that’s been viewed well over 2 million times, aiming to raise the economy of a country like
Kenya by $3.2 billion just by keeping girls in school and safe.

And to be certain, giving online is growing at a fantastic pace. The
Online Giving Indexes
showed an amazing rise of 24% in amount given
online from 2009 to 2010 and a 17% increase in how many people were
giving online over the same period.

Sites like and are helping projects of all
sizes around the world find donors as individual charities also retool
their sites to accept donations online as a service.

But while this new convenient method of giving is continue to grow,
it’s important to look even deeper into the strategy being used to
utilize social media most effectively. After all, even Millennial
donors, arguably our most connected generation, overwhelmingly seem to
prefer to be asked face-to-face, a whopping 91% being likely to give
in those situations versus 51% over platform sites and a mere 17% by
the old stand-by, direct mail.

It stands to reason that as we talk so often about how social media is
a relationship tool that the key area that social media will be able
to bring in the donation is not from a stream of constantly asking,
but rather in the old, sometimes-forgotten realm of stewardship, the
art of thanking donors and ensuring their continued presence with your
organization. That’s not to say that social media can’t be used for
asking, but the ratio of stewardship to ask could probably use a tweak
here and there.

Some ideas on how to use social media in your not-for-profit’s
stewardship goals:

Thank you: The primary task of stewardship is to make the donor feel
appreciated. Mom always told me that saying thank you was the first
step in that, and Mom is a smart lady. Be explicit. Send a shout out
to those that give. The more specific the better. You might want to be
sure to give an opt-out, but make collecting Facebook accounts and
Twitter handles part of your data collection and make it personal and

Storytime: A girl still in school, shelters built in Haiti, a group of
school children seeing their first ever orchestra performance, a
dollar a day saving a child from starvation. Stories make it real,
make it personal. It connects the dots between giving and the good
things that happen because of it. It lets the donor feel personal
pride in their generosity.

Sneak Peek: The thing that I believe rewards donors most is access.
Unlike mugs and tote bags, you can’t buy it in a store so it’s value
is defined in intrinsic terms. Access makes donors feel special and
privileged because of their generous nature. It puts them in a special
position with status as one of your most important partners in
achieving your mission. Announce your season to your donors first,
interview a doctor providing care that only they get to download and
share, have a private Flickr feed just for them.

Events: Organize tweetups for donors, invite them to an event on
Facebook, get that face time that they want. No matter the age of your
donor base, they want to share their passion for your cause with you
and with their fellow donors. Whether to network or just to be around
cool people that Get It ™, reward their urge to get out from behind
the screens and develop that relationship in person. And whatever you
do at these appreciation events, DON’T ask for money. Just say thank
you and develop that lasting experience that will keep them loyal to
your cause for a long, long time.

I would love to hear more suggestions on things that have worked or
things that people want to see happen. This is just a starting point.
What’s the best use of stewardship that you’ve seen on social media?
What do you as a donor want to be a part of?