Make 2017 a Commitment to Stewardship

You made it through the end of the year! I hope all your planning produced a record December fundraising season?

As you look to 2017, I encourage you to put stewardship at the forefront of your planning. Once again, my annual giving test showed very disappointing results.

The key takeaway from my test this year showed that most organizations steward all donors the same way. While not a significant test size, I did find that most organizations I gave to had the same stewardship approach whether I gave $25, $500 or $1,000. And yes, I gave multiple gifts at these levels to the same organizations using different names to track the results.

Here is my suggested action plan:

  • Make a gift to your organization and monitor the stewardship process.
  • If you must, prioritize the segments:
    • Caseload Donors, New donors, $250+ donors, top 1,000 highest value donors
    • Multi-year, upgraded donors
    • Reactivated donors
  • Improve your thank you letter with stronger storytelling. This is the perfect time to demonstrate impact and how the donor made a difference and solved a problem.
  • Make the thank you letter about what the donor did, not the organization. Use “you” language three times as much as you use “we” language.
  • Create a stewardship map that details activity (i.e., letter, phone call, welcome kit, etc.), timing, purpose and content.
  • Make it a priority and communicate the importance to your development team.

Email me if you would like to see an example of a stewardship map. I can be reached at

If you make this a priority, you will see higher retention rates, upgraded giving and more loyalty from your donors. And that will take some pressure off your acquisition efforts.

Make it a New Year’s resolution and let me know how it goes.

By: Chip Grizzard