Good stewardship

by Michelle Woster, CVT Individual Giving Officer

Good stewardship – which is defined as thanking, informing and engaging donors so they continually renew their support – is a critical piece of a successful development program.  Best stewardship practices are easy to implement, but are often overlooked or undervalued.  Here are three simple strategies for assuring donors that their decision to fund your organization was a smart one:

  1. Timely gift acknowledgments.  Have efficient, consistent procedures in place for processing donations and thanking donors.  Donors have the practical need of knowing that their gift was received either electronically or via USPS.  But they also need to know that the gift is valued, and that is communicated when an organization thanks them quickly and sincerely.  Issue a thank you letter, signed with a pen by a staff person, using appropriate IRS language within one week of receipt.  Donors who make gifts that are considered major by your organization should receive a phone call from leadership, as well. 
  2. Accurate recordkeeping.  If you list donors in your newsletter, website or annual report, make sure that their names are spelled correctly and that they appear in the correct dollar range of gift-giving. 
  3. Communicate outcomes.  Think of easily digestible methods for reporting your outcomes.  Avoid the use of too many acronyms or heady research.   Stories about actual humans served are the most powerful tools for motivating donors to give.   

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