You planned, prospected, cultivated and asked for the gift. You even got the amount you asked for. Mazel Tov! Now what do you do? Thank and engage your donor! Forever. Stewardship is all about retaining and building relationships with your donors, continuing to show your appreciation and engaging them in your mission.
Donors, of course, need to be thanked in a timely manner - but stewardship is beyond the formal thank you and doing a good job of "accounting". Donors need to be regularly apprised of the values that their gift is adding to the camp and be given regular opportunities to be involved in the organization's life. Stewardship is all about relationships:
- Lets the donor know that their gift has made a difference and the ways in which the camp and its mission are stronger because of their generosity.
- Connects the donor's values and the camp's values.
- Demonstrates respect for the partnership between the camp and its donors.
- Is the underpinning for the long-term relationships that lead to increased financial support and personal advocacy.
- Engages the donor in the life of the organization in a first-hand, ongoing way that results in shared aspirations and long-term commitments.
Staff members must support the stewardship efforts by providing proper data maintenance structures and planning donor stewardship activities. It is up to staff to schedule and plan stewardship actions and make sure board members help with implementation. Board members and other key volunteers are critical for their personal involvement in maintaining donor relations.
Stewardship activities are similar to cultivation activities:
- Make "thank you!" phone calls and emails
- Make personal visits with donors - at least once per year!
- Host donors for on-site tours
- Personally invite donors to camp events
- Invite donors to appropriate social or community events
- Be attentive to individual donor interests
Establish personal relations with donors just as you would an old friend or a neighbor. Inquire about their interests and their families. Discuss shared values and camp stories. Connect with them.
Stewardship is not only critical to show appreciation for current gifts, but it enables the organization to clearly establish its position to ask for additional and larger gifts in the future.