Donor Stewardship

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					D O N O R   S T E W A R D S H I P

                          Donor Stewardship

                          “         o practice is more important in the development process than
                                    stewardship, the continued involvement, cultivation and care of those
                                    who give.” – Kay Sprinkel Grace, Beyond Fundraising.

                          Donor stewardship goes beyond the handwritten thank you note. It is the
                          cornerstone of effective donor cultivation and permeates throughout the culture
                          of an organization. The way that one manages donors, is similar to the way
                          one would manage volunteers, board members and even staff; regular
                          communication and an “open-door” policy are a must.

                          In today’s ever-changing economic world, non-profit organizations not only
                          need funding, but they need strong partnerships they can leverage and turn to
                          in times of crisis. Stewardship is about creating and strengthening those

                          Peter Block, author of Stewardship, defines stewardship as the connection to
                          the market place thereby answering the concern about funding. Stewardship
                          is the set of principles and practices which have the potential to make dramatic
                          changes in our organizations. “It is concerned with creating a way of
                          governing ourselves … focusing on quality service and participation.”

                          What are the motivators for giving? Philanthropy establishes a bond between
                          donor and recipient thereby creating a partnership. This partnership is
                          governed by the following:
                                Exchange of purpose (donor provides funds, recipient provides service)
                                Each party has the right to say NO
                                There is joint accountability
                                Both parties commit to absolute honesty
                                Once a partnership is created there is no abdication of roles and

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Human nature is such that if a donor is satisfied they will engage others in the
cause. However, a disgruntled donor will be very vocal. Their dissatisfaction
could potentially endanger funds raised from other donors as well as the very
fabric of your organization. An effective Stewardship program will enable you
to proactively address upset donors.

Philanthropy magazine recently published an article about donor giving
patterns. What the article said was that donors are increasingly educated in
how and to whom they give. Their increased knowledge has driven them to
become more focused and active in the giving process. As such, an
organization that has no stewardship program or one that is inconsistent, will
be noticed by these philanthropists and could result in a drop in their

Philanthropy is a voluntary action for the public good. It is values based and can
be either: giving of time or money, asking others to get involved, joining an
organization (fulfilling a sense of needing to belong), become actively involved on
the frontlines or as a guide through the Board of Directors. Stewardship is much
the same – a value-based relationship building strategy. “[Stewardship] has come
to mean the essential function which organizations develop lasting relationships
with their donors/investors. This includes the ethical management and care of all
human and financial resources. Stewardship promotes donor/organization
relationships based on mutual respect for both the source and impact of gifts.”
(Grace, pg. 163)

Effective stewardship is just as key as securing that first gift. Creating this plan
might seem like a daunting task, but by investing in staff and volunteer resources
initially - the payoff will be exponential. This is a “long-term investment” and once
a well planned program is created and integrated into the fabric of a fund
development strategy the effort will become minimal.

Grace highlights 11 principles of effective stewardship.
1. Start with the first gift – Engage the donor from the beginning. That initial
   $25 donation might be worth $1000 the next year
2. Alternate messages to your donors – DO NOT ALWAYS ASK FOR
   MONEY. For every one ask, have two non-asks
3. Have a budget for stewardship – Includes but not limited to: taking a donor
   for lunch, postage for mailing, printing thank you cards, buying small gifts,
   donor-focused special event
4. Stewardship practice should be inline with budget, image of agency and
   amount of gift
5. Determine what kind of involvement your top donors want outside of
   making the donation (some might not want close contact while others might
   want regular updates)
6. Use current donors to convey message to potential donors – Nothing
   speaks more volumes than a satisfied donor
7. Tie stewardship program to the mission

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8. Focus on intangible rather than tangible benefits – make donors into
9. Maintain stewardship with long-term and major donors even if they
    decrease or stop giving
10. Keep all donors part of your database unless they tell you otherwise
11. Establish relationships between donors and program staff

Stewardship as a series of concentric circles where the innermost circle
houses the most important donors and volunteers (i.e. major donors, founding
funders and board of directors) and the outermost circle are those one-off
donations (i.e. gift made in memory of someone, former participants, etc.).
There can be any number of layers, as shown in Rosso’s Concentric Circles
below.1 Within each sphere are your various giving levels (this is discussed
further in this chapter). This model is called a “donor-focused development
plan” (fig. 4.1).

An effective stewardship program starts with the first donation and is
systematic and on-going. The following is a model for a stewardship program.
This model was adopted from Grace’s nine-point plan and this guest writer’s
own personal experience. This program consists of setting simple guidelines,
like who signs the thank you letter (Executive Director, Board Chair, Staff
Person) to writing a quarterly donor-focused newsletter to planning a donor

    Rosso, Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising

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appreciation event (much more complex). In all these cases, some basic
steps need to be incorporated.
1. Board buy-in.
    a. Adopt a stewardship policy – this is a commitment to the philosophy of
       stewardship, not the means to achieve it (high-level).

2. Have a Stewardship Sub-Committee of your Fund Development
    a. This committee should be comprised of a major donor, a member of the fund
       development committee and a staff person. Their primary responsibility is to
       create a Stewardship Plan that will be presented to the Board of Directors for

3. Donor analysis
    a.   How many donors do you have?
    b.   What levels do they give at?
    c.   How frequently do they donate?
    d.   Who are they?

4. Create giving levels.
    a. I suggest three or four distinct categories. One example is the theatre
       categories: Orchestra, Dress Circle, Founder, Corporate – each one having a
       different value
    b. Each level has its own benefits – Identify those benefits and publish them.
       The array of benefits increases with value of gift. Focus on connecting donor
       to mission through benefits (i.e. picture of kids at camp with letter from
       recipient for a donation that provided camp scholarships)

5. Donor Outreach through marketing and promotional materials: mailings,
   phone calls, personal solicitations, interim reports, corporate and
   foundation proposals.

6. Reporting.
    a. This is critical for all corporate donations and foundation grants. A formal
       process that is typically outlined by the funder. Most reports require actual
       financials, planned and unplanned outcomes, implementation process and
       qualitative and quantitative data on the project. Some funders will also request
       an interim report. These specific reporting requests will be outlined during the
       granting process (and each granting body has different requirements).

7. Monitoring and adjust the stewardship program as donor demographics
   shift and donor base grows.
    a. Benchmarks to record: Number of repeat donors, number and value of
       increased gifts, event attendance, new people engaged to the organization
       through donors.

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  Fig. 2

          Point of Entry:          1           Follow-up:
                                                                 Terry Axelrod
                                                                 created another
            How you get
              someone                           Thank You        stewardship
             in the door                      Getting involved   model. This guest
                                                                 writer’s own
                                                                 strategy melds
                                                                 Grace’s with
                                                                 Axelrod’s model is
             4                                           2       also circular, but
                                                                 she has created
                                                                 an ongoing spiral
                                                                 (see fig. 2 to the
          Introduce Others:                      The Ask:        left). The theory is
          Link those who have                    ☺ 2☺            outlined in her
               connected                         Meeting         book, “Raising
           with future donors                 Making the pitch   More Money”.
               Thank you             3         Special Event

Terry Axelrod, 2005, Raising More Money

In conclusion, as you set up your fund development strategy, stewardship
should be a critical component. Statistics Canada released the following data
in 2002: Calgary is the 3rd most philanthropic city in Canada. Alberta has more
individual donors per capita than any other province and we give the largest
percentage of our take-home income. The more non-profits start recognizing
and honouring their funding partners on all levels, the stronger the individual
charity becomes thereby strengthening the entire sector.

Suggested Reading:
       Block, Peter; “Stewardship”, San Francisco: Berrett Koehler, 1993.
       Grace, Kay Sprinkel; “Beyond Fundraising”, Toronto: John Wiley and
       Sons, 1997.
       Rosso, Mark; “Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising”, San Francisco:
       Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Suggested Periodicals:
       Non-Profit Quarterly
       Philanthropy Magazine
       Business in Calgary

Suggest Website:

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                                 Guest Writer
                                 Gena Rotstein received her Masters in Non-Profit Management and Jewish
                                 Communal Service from Brandeis University. For over a decade she has been
                                 providing fundraising and programming services to the Jewish community and non-
                                 profit sector at large across North America. Gena has been a guest lecturer at the
                                 University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business as well as in the Continuing
Gena Rotstein,
                                 Education MBA program.
Director, Fund Development
                                 While Calgary is home, Gena has spent time living and studying working in Boston,
CentrePoint Advancing Non-
Profit Management                Providence, Dayton, New Jersey/New York area, Toronto and Israel. Currently she
1070, 1202 Centre Street S.E.    is the Director of Fund Development at the CentrePoint Advancing Non-Profit
Calgary, AB T2T 5A5
                                 Management .
Phone: (403) 538-8611            When not at work, she can be found curled up with a good book and her dog,    Valley, or en-route to exciting destinations around the globe.

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                                                         D O NO R R E L ATI O NS AC TI O N PL AN

                                                                                                                          Direct Mail









Target Category           Lead            Name                                                                                                                                         Comments

                                          Corporation XYZ
Event Guest List           DLM            Corporation ABC                                                                                                                              Wanted to attend Spring event

                                          Others …

                                          F OU N D ATI O NS /

Funder                     DLM            Foundation 1
Funder                     DLM            Foundation 2
                                          Others …

                                          I NDIVI D U AL S

Funder                     DLM            Mr.
Funder                     DLM            Mrs.

Add other names on an ongoing basis.

          Plan to do                                 Completed

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 TR AC K I N G DO NO R AN D P ROSPE C T PR OPOS AL S                                                    Indicates new information since last month’s report

                                    Proposal                    Project                         Amount           Amount         Reporting
Lead        Name                    Due             Date Sent   Description    Reply            Requested        Received       Due              Comments

Current Corporate Funders
JKM         Corporation XYZ         October, 2005               Core Funding   December, 2005    $5,000.00                                       Awaiting

Current Foundations/Agencies



Direct Mail
                                    First           Number      Second                          Average
Lead        Name                    Mailing         Sent        Mailing        Replies          Donation         Totals

                                                                                                Total            $

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