I remember the first time I heard the word “stewardship” connected with philanthropy and donors. I was fresh out of college, in my first fundraising role, and trying to absorb as much about the world as possible (I knew nothing at that point). Our fundraising team was asked to brainstorm some unique stewardship ideas. I was hoping to pick up a few pearls of stewardship wisdom and instead everyone was silent—aside from a grumble about thank you notes and lists.
Flash forward 20 years and I certainly hope we have evolved beyond silence, a standard acknowledgement letter (“Thank you for your gift of…”), or running donor lists (“We’ll just put our donor names in the Annual Report.”)
Blah, blah, blah! Where’s the stewardship creativity?
Yes, of course we should continue to send acknowledgement letters, make thank you calls, and use other traditional means to steward our donors. But what can our nonprofits do to stand out? How can we keep our donors engaged and involved? How can we show our gratitude beyond a simple “thank you?”
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information and data, we need to break through the noise and get to the heart of donor relationships. Here are a few stewardship moves that go beyond the mundane…