Proper Stewardship: It’s More Than A “Thank You!”

By Katie MacKenzie, Project Coordinator


In the development world we’ve all heard of it, we all discuss it, and we all agree it is important.

However, so often I see some of the clients with which I work think that a simple Thank You note is just that, a simple note. While I don’t want you to underestimate what the power of a simple note can actually do, I often think people fail to realize how important the stewardship piece of the donor life-cycle really is.

Stewardship serves a variety of purposes. Yes, you do want your donor to feel “warm and fuzzy,” but the stewardship process is so much more.

In our campaign coordinator training, we state that stewardship serves six purposes besides just a simple “thank you”. Proper stewardship:

  • Ensures that the donor “feels good”;
  • Reports on success to the donor;
  • Reinforces the impact of the donor’s gift;
  • Facilitates communications;
  • Leverages future gifts; and
  • Keeps donors engaged.

Each of these six stewardship outcomes is equally important.

Yes, you want the donor to feel good and feel properly thanked for their gift. However you also want to:

  • Reinforce what an impact their gift made (which also makes donors feel appreciated);
  • Have an opportunity to report your continued success, so they can see what their gift continues to help accomplish;
  • Keep the lines of communication open so the donor feels a part of the process;
  • Leverage possible future gifts;

And, you want to do this all while making sure the donor feels engaged and part of the project and mission of your organization.

A simple Thank You and acknowledgement of a gift can open the door to many positive outcomes.

So let me encourage you today that if you do not already have a solid, stewardship process in place, develop one immediately! It will pay off dividends in the end.