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Best Practices

What is Stewardship? Why it Matters More Than You Might Think

Our philosophy at the Hub is simple: You should be cultivating relationships with your readers all year long, not just at the end of the year during your last major fundraising push.

This kind of relationship building is what we call “stewardship,” and it just might be the most integral part of your membership program.

The end of summer is a great time to put together a stewardship strategy.

Now’s the time to start drafting emails that show how your work benefits your community.

Since many news organizations ramp up reporting around elections—and site traffic often spikes as readers seek information about candidates and issues—late October/early November is a prime time to prove your value.

Stewardship emails are also an opportunity to get your readers thinking about their role as a stakeholder—or shareholder—in the future of your organization.

But plan to stay on readers’ radar all year long.

Your stewardship strategy should prime readers for giving when you ask—not just during fundraising campaigns.

Stewardship messages get readers more invested in your organization and build loyalty. They might even help you recruit future board members or volunteers.

Stewardship strategies may be different for different types of news organizations. At the Hub, we help our clients identify their unique value propositions and develop email campaigns and products to tell their story in compelling ways. We also provide copywriting services to help our clients with the lift.

Not making time for this type of work is often what keeps organizations from reaching their potential.

Here are some tips to writing a better stewardship email:

  • Keep your email short and sweet. Make the best case you can in as few words as possible. The best ones are under 300 words.
  • Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Don’t overthink it. Sending something out is better than sitting on it, and it’ll help you stay on your donors’ radar.
  • That being said, every time you send something out, spend some time thinking about what the ultimate goal is. Make it useful, interesting, and illuminating. Every time.
  • Finally, don’t be afraid to be transparent or vulnerable about financial or operational aspects of your organization. Putting something on the precipice is a great way to elicit support.

So now that you are a stewardship pro, what are you waiting for?

Get cracking on that cultivation email and remember: the work doesn’t stop when your readers make a donation. That’s just the beginning.

Would you like some examples? Drop us a line and we’ll send you some of our favorite client stewardship emails.


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