52 WWW.AGRM.ORG JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 DAY-TO-DAY Practical help with the operations and ministry of your mission FINDING FUNDS Barry Durman Reporting Back Make sure your donors understand how their contributions change lives Barry is director of development for SIM USA. You can contact him at barry.durman@sim.org. I t’s a new year. Stewardship plans for 2018 have been prepared and a communi- cation strategy—including direct mail, social networking, Google advertising, and other avenues—are included. For major donors, a month-by- month “touch” strategy has been designed with the best months for visits, proposals, request amounts, and project focuses assigned. These assumptions, if not already underway, should be in the works right now. As a part of this planning, have you included appropriate “reporting back” to the donors who made gifts in the last quarter of 2017? This is espe- cially important for those who have made significant, even sacrificial contributions. One of the items mentioned most often when donors are surveyed about the satisfaction they have in partnering financially with ministries (and all nonprofits) is that they do not hear how their gifts were used or the outcome of the project. Because donors want to make a difference in their area of interest, it’s important that they hear stories of changed lives. For those who fall into the General Donor level of giving, a nicely designed update pamphlet, covered by a person- alized letter, will suffice. Be sure to include high-quality photos with captions, and short updates on each project for which you have solicited gifts. The most important element is short stories telling how people have experienced life change. I suggest that this mailer be a four page, full-color piece with pictures of people’s faces looking at the reader. No ask should be associated with this communication package. For those who have responded to appeals with sig- nificant gifts, a very personal, hand-signed letter explaining how important their gift was to a project, and the difference it made, should be sent. I suggest that a full-color drop-in card be included with the letter showing a photo and story of one person whose life was changed through the program that the gift supported. For very large gifts, a per- sonal visit to share the impact of the donor’s partnership with your ministry is important. Why this level of follow up? It all helps make the donor feel more a part of the ministry, and it will contribute to the lifetime value of their relation- ship. It will also begin to grow the level of partnership with each donor so that over time the donors will give more to the Lord’s work through your ministry. Saying thank you, with a report back, should be a standard aspect of your annual stewardship plan. Ĩ