Stewardship: A Key Part of the Fundraising Diet

The Food Pyramid


As a fundraiser who focuses on individuals (and as you may have guessed by the name of this blog), I absolutely believe that stewardship is at the heart of successful fundraising.

I believe that stewardship:

  1. Shows your donors what you are doing with their contributions
  2. Provides opportunities to build trust and share your org’s successes, while also deepening
  3. Way to reconnect with lapsed donors
  4. Translates well with individual and institutional donors

In my current position, I have had great success with expanded stewardship initiatives like the following:

Named room reports
For more than three decades, donors have been able to name a resident room for a a major gift in the low five figures.  However upon my arrival, I found that there had been inconsistent stewardship of these major donors and proposed that we provide annual reports to these donors about the resident(s) who lived in their named rooms.  These reports allow us to be in touch with these donors without asking for a gift, to thank them again for their past generosity and to show why their continued support is needed.

Annual President’s Report to Donors
As our printed Annual Report is produced in small quantities and shared primarily through e-mail, I thought that it would be worthwhile to provide a regular update in hard copy that is personalized to a range of donors, especially while we are in the last year of a multi-million-dollar challenge grant.  These letters are another touch point and provide an opportunity to follow-up with special event donors and other key constituencies as necessary.

Admission application copies
From its founding almost 90 years ago until about the 1970’s, my organization maintained resident records in detailed individual forms.  An easy way to show appreciation to our dedicated alumni donors from these time periods is to send them a copy of their admission application (especially if there is an old photo of the donor attached to it); it brings back treasured memories of their time, friends they made and can help reconnect them with our work at a very low cost.  One particular donor wrote a kind note saying that he felt very appreciated and welcomed back into the organization’s community after receiving a copy of his admission application.

Do you have any innovative stewardship strategies that you have used?

For further reading on stewardship, check out this great post by Barbara Talisman (I hope to cover some of her key points in future posts).

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