by Kris Kindelsperger
We might all instinctively know that strong stewardship is important, but how good are we at executing?
In recent feasibility study interviews for several types of organizations we have been surprised by the following observations by donors:
- Some interviewees had yet to meet the president or Chief Executive Officer of the organization.
- Some individuals could not call a member of the advancement staff by name.
- Some cited situations where a gift to the organization had not been correctly acknowledged or not handled as the donor felt it was intended
- Some individuals had questions about the way the organization was being run based on information from secondary media or comments from friends.
While these responses do not represent the majority of input in any study, the disturbing part is they come from individuals that organizations consider their top donor prospects for future campaigns.
So, let’s review some basic rules of stewardship:
- Top prospects should have substantive interaction with the president or CEO.
- Advancement’s job is to build relationships and be the “go to” people on campus. Donors should know them personally.
- If donors do not feel that previous gifts have been handled well, the likelihood of future investment-level gifts is obviously diminished.
- If we are not communicating clearly and directly, donors may not be getting the straight story. We all need to proactively communicate to donors about our organizations, with good news as well as not so good news. Authenticity builds confidence and strong relationships.
Stewardship is not just about getting a thank you note out the door within a 48 hour window. It is about valuing your donors and building personal, in-depth relationships that cause them to want to invest in your organization.