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Skagit Valley Hospital

Beyond the Thank You: Making the Most of Your Stewardship Efforts



2011 to 2012As fundraising professionals, my TCG colleagues and I often remind our client organizations about the importance of retaining donors, and the role of good stewardship in retention. As individual donors, the end of the year is a great time to observe how well those organizations we personally support know us: our giving habits, our interests, and our motivations. As solicitations flood my mailboxes (snail and email) with urgent and worthy requests, how well an organization “knows” me as a donor is informing my giving decisions this year, more than ever. That’s why I was particularly interested to note this morning that a Chronicle of Philanthropy poll reports an upswing in current year-end giving.

Research tells us that the primary reason new and loyal donors give, or give again, is because they understand the impact of their gift.  How can your organization communicate its impact effectively? As your holiday appeals come to a close, schedule time in January to see if you can answer the following five questions about your top donors. Then take the time to tweak or perhaps revisit your existing stewardship plans, or to make 2012 the year you formalize your stewardship efforts.

  1. Why is your organization a philanthropic priority? From the Seven Faces of Philanthropy to newer approaches to different types of donors, research indicates that donors give for complex reasons, and that those reasons may vary within a household.
  2. What does the donor hope to better understand from their partnership with you? Some donors may care about a specific program, while others may take a more holistic view of your mission. Still other donors may look to your organization to keep them informed about the sector or community context in which you work.
  3. How does your donor prefer to receive information about your organization’s impact? Some donors may highly value regular face-to-face encounters; others may prefer a personal note they can read at their convenience.
  4. With whom does the donor wish to stay connected? Some donors expect to develop a relationship with your organization’s professional leader; others may prefer the opportunity to meet periodically with program staff, or a board member.
  5. When does the donor want to hear from you? Some donors welcome monthly contact; other donors may feel bombarded if you reach out to them more than a few times a year.

The Collins Group will be closed from December 26 – January 2. Watch for our Mid-Year Checklist in early January! It will include several tips for refocusing and recharging your staff and volunteers to get the most out of your organization’s fundraising efforts.


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About the Author

Barb Maduell

Barb Maduell CFRE

Senior Consultant

With pithy advice and sensible solutions, Barb guides her clients through the cycle of best fundraising practices, coaching them to greater heights.


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