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JJ Watt Provides Another Fundraising Lesson

If JJ Watt is looking for a career once he retires from the NFL, he may want to consider fundraising. About a year ago he raised just over $40 million (with an original goal of $200,000) for Hurricane Harvey relief. And even if the cynic in you discounts that figure as being a wealthy and influential individual with a lot of wealthy friends that your organization could never duplicate, JJ’s efforts provide another lesson, this time in the area of stewardship.

At the end of August, the JJ Watt Foundation released this report detailing the work they have done with the funds they raised. Short and simple, the report does an outstanding job of giving specifics into the impact of the foundation’s work. Also notable is the recognition of other nonprofit partners who received the majority of the funds. Here, JJ is showing how efficiently the funds were used—not to start completely new programs (that may be duplicative), but to utilize the programmatic expertise of other organizations in the area.

Overall, this report demonstrates elements of a great stewardship piece: 1) A thank you; 2) Examples of the impact donated funds have had, providing as much specificity as possible; and 3) Another thank you. JJ and his team earn bonus for alluding to future plans, which says we’re thinking strategically and are still a smart place for you to invest (without a direct ask). Other nice features include a number of pictures of beneficiaries of the Watt Foundation work, a timeline and a well-written, personal note from JJ. If your donor retention rate isn’t where you want it to be, review your stewardship materials to see where you could bolster your thank you, impact reporting and future funding needs.

Shocking Statistic: The work of the JJ Watt Foundation facilitated distribution of 26 million meals to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.