Hello SOTGC community,
In the past few weeks I have spoken to various associations programs where the audience ranges from the seasoned fundraising executive to the novice. The one comment I heard most often is, “I don’t have time for stewardship.”
On the reverse, when speaking to major donors I often hear, “I give, but I never receive a thank you.” Personally, I have also experienced this type of behavior from an organization. Other stories I’ve heard are, “I tried to volunteer, but the organization just seems too busy to speak with me.”
Calling all development officers: when was the last time you made a personal visit to your donors? Do you have a stewardship program in place? Do you wait for the annual campaign to contact a donor with [your] hand out? What are you waiting for? You cannot afford to alienate your donors.
Sixty percent of your time should be spent on building rapport and trust (donor stewardship). Ten percent of your time is gaining commitment from the donor. A simple, strategic stewardship program adds value to your organization. Good stewardship adds to your retention and sustainability of the organization.
Fundraising professionals are familiar with the fundraising pyramid. This is an effective visual tool providing a solicitation scale from entry-level to major gifts donors. You will see from the graph below where you have the opportunity to transform the size of your donor’s contributions. When you work through the giving-cycle, stewardship becomes the cornerstone of your efforts. Good stewardship is circular and will engage your donors as they become more invested in your accomplishments. Poor or lack of stewardship creates disapproval and leads to supporter distrust and dissatisfaction.
Donors will give for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons for giving is because they connect with your mission and vision and have passion for your programs. People will give to people they know, like, and trust. They want to give back to the community and support programs. It makes them feel good. When was the last time you allowed a donor to feel good about themselves? Regardless of the motivation, donors will always look for the reciprocating consideration we refer to as ‘stewardship’ to continually keep the relationship in motion.
Creating a comprehensive stewardship program is easy. Even when a donor selects anonymity, it is still up to you to be creative when stewarding a gift.
Who should be involved in the stewardship program? Your first response when receiving a gift is “thank you.” And always personalize your hand written “thank you.” Everyone in your organization should be part of the process. Many may not be the direct contact with the donor. Your board of directors, staff, and other volunteers should be aware of your donors and thank them in a formal process or casual setting such as a community event.
It may take some training on your part to educate others of their role to becoming good stewards of your organization. When your sustainability increases – the personal “thank you” and hours of training will be well worth the effort. Show your gratitude in return and “thank” your volunteers.
Create a culture where stewardship becomes an everyday occurrence. Good stewardship increases your reputation, image, and priorities. Consider the rewards, thoughtful gratitude and communication – PRICELESS!
Swank, Katherine (2011). Peak Performance: Strategic Stewardship for Planned Giving Programs. firstname.lastname@example.org
If this post resonated with you, please Tweet, Pin, or share on LinkedIn or Facebook and help spread the message.
With more than 25 years of nonprofit management experience, Connie Pheiff has raised approximately $200 million for national social service organizations and business associations. Prior to leading her own company in September 2006, Ms. Pheiff held positions as the Chief Executive Officer for United Way, Girl Scouts of Penn’s Woods Council, Director of a local and United States Chamber of Commerce where she led fundraising enterprises. She holds a Master of Public Administration and Organizational Innovation with a minor in Speech Communication. Ms. Pheiff teaches online courses on sponsorships, philanthropy, and Corporate Social Responsibility.