At Alexander Haas, we have seen and are seeing a number of examples where stewardship helps in building a culture of philanthropy.
Our Managing Partner Arthur Criscillis makes the point that good stewardship involves four key components: acknowledging the gift, recognizing the donor, telling the donor how the gift was used, and engaging the donor. How do your stewardship practices measure up? You can give your organization this 10 point test to find out:
Acknowledging the gift
- Do you mail gift receipts/tax acknowledgment letters within 1-3 days? (or within 5-7 days for year-end gifts?)
- Do you review and refresh the language used in your standard acknowledgment/thank you letters at least twice a year? (fall and spring work well for this)
- Is your database set up to notify you when any gift of any size is received from a VIP donor? (for example, a Board member or Benefactor Patron makes a memorial gift)
Recognizing the donor
- Do you share news of significant gifts, including annual upper-level gifts, with your Board? Does your Board write personal notes or make calls to thank these donors?
- Do you have a donor wall or page in your publication or on your website that recognizes donors at certain gift levels by name, including those who make annual gifts at upper levels?
Telling the donor how the gift was used
- Do your donors hear from others outside of development in your organization about how their gift is put to work? Are education or artistic staff members, for example, involved in saying thank you and giving an update on their programs and outcomes?
- Do you post key financial documents (or links to the documents) on your website, such as a budget summary of revenues and expenses, recent IRS 990 forms, and summary of most recent independent financial audit? Do you create a concise (2-4 pages) summary of your programs and outcomes, and key performance indicators and financials, and publish it each year in print or post it online? Do you send it to all donors, electronically or by mail?
Engaging the donor
- Do you make a point to invite your donors to different education or outreach programs throughout the year, or to take a backstage tour?
- Do members of your organization leadership (Board and management) personally know your top 50 donors?
- Have you called a donor this week to provide an update on a project they have supported? How about today?