Stewardship: the secret ingredient – Tibet Relief Fund’s donor stewardship journey

Sam Butler is Director of Development & Communications at Tibet Relief Fund. He’ll be sharing examples of how he builds strong, long-term relationships with supporters through effective stewardship at our Fundraising Conference on 20 June. Want to hear for yourself why ongoing donor engagement is so important? Book your place now

Since starting at Tibet Relief Fund, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been working with a board, CEO and team that understand how important the ongoing engagement (stewardship) of our existing supporter base is.

For a small organisation we have an expansive amount of ways in which someone can support our work. Through an online shop, we have ethically minded shoppers, through our portfolio of events; we have a diverse mix of supporters that engage with our cultural and wellbeing events and traditional challenge events. We also have an incredibly loyal group of regular supporters that respond to one of 4 appeals that we send out each year.

When I arrived, my remit was to start to build a strategy that would help to define and segment these supporter groups, identify what they would like to hear from us about and how,  moving forward (as GDPR was fast approaching), and to reengage anyone that was defined as lapsed in their support, why had they left us?

From a practical perspective, we did not have a huge amount of human resources at our disposal, the overarching strategy for the charity was near completion, and there were several opportunities – right under our noses – that we weren’t leveraging as a way of engaging those who had been supporting our work for many years.

Having moved from a very large (top 100) UK charity, it was always going to be a steep learning curve moving to Tibet Relief Fund! I was going to have to roll my sleeves up and network like never before! Along the way we have learnt some BIG lessons on what not-to-do, and what to-do more of, to enable us to achieve a step-change in the culture of the charity – and I think lots of it will be relevant to your small charity too.

As part of the panel at the FSI’s Fundraising Conference on the 20th June, I hope that you will come and learn how we were able to thank everyone that makes a donation to us of any kind, recruit new supporters of our work through the sale of merchandise, increase our social media engagement by 6000% and reactivate supporters that hadn’t donated to us for 2 years or more! But, most importantly, build a portfolio of events and propositions that has helped us to retain the support of new supporters, whilst also reigniting those supporters love for what we do.

Tibet Relief Fund, working with Tibetans since 1959

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