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The 5 W's of Stewardship

January 1, 2017


Stewardship, customer appreciation, donor appreciation whatever you want to call it – it is a must-do for maintaining, retaining and showing your appreciation for those who keep your business moving forward.


Thanking donors may seem simple enough, but so many organizations are missing the mark or letting this simple task fall by the wayside and stewardship is more than just “Thank You,” it is being connected and personal.


Here is your cheat sheet for donor stewardship:


Who: Rule of thumb - steward everyone! This includes your donors; those who give cash and give in kind. Those who attend your events and those who volunteer their time. Thank your suppliers – without their expertise you wouldn’t be able to do what you do so well.


What: In what ways should you steward? Stewardship includes a thank you call, a personal hand-written note or email. Grander gestures include birthday notes, religious celebration cards, drop-ins, coffee dates and appreciation events.


Where: The method or platform you use for your stewardship needs to be targeted. Know who you are stewarding and how they want to be recognized. Host a committee thank you dinner for the social group, send a newsletter with the numbers and outcomes of your latest fundraising campaign or event mentioning your top supporters for those who like more attention or send a cookiegram to the corporate team to enjoy together. End of the day – know your audience.


When: Stewardship is an ongoing process and should be built into your calendar, with reminders to trigger action! Post event or campaign thank you notes sent, follow up 3 – 6 months after to tell donors how their money was used and who benefited from their support. Keeping donors in the loop throughout the year makes the next ask (ticket sales, sponsorship or annual gift) not come out of the blue.


Why: You never want a stakeholder thinking you are only reaching out to them to “pitch” them or “sell” them on something. Let them in as part of the community your organization creates and they will be more receptive to ongoing support. Change the notion that fundraisers are always asking for something. Instead be a fundraiser who includes, celebrates, raises funds and appreciates!



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