Facts About Stewardship

June 7, 2019

What separates good charities from great charities? Many things, from mission to staff; from culture to corporate relationships. Some of these are controllable, while others aren’t. I wholeheartedly believe that stewardship is in your control (if it isn’t, take control of it — NOW!!!)

Here are some naked truths about stewardship:

  1. Don’t expect financial support. Earn it. (see my article on what makes someone a good prospect at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-many-us-have-heard-olive-cooke-tragedy-jack-silverstein/)
  2. Success isn’t rocket science (shhhh, don’t tell anyone or I’m out of a job). It’s simply hard work on those folks that are well prepared. (see my article about this https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-golden-idioms-from-ken-burnett-jack-silverstein/)
  3. Fundraising isn’t about raising money. It’s about solving a problem. (see my article about this https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/some-golden-idioms-from-ken-burnett-jack-silverstein/)
  4. Money doesn’t magically appear. You have to ask for it. (You can read more at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fundraising-both-art-science-jack-silverstein/)
  5. Prospects and donors aren’t ATM’s — treat them as you would customers in a business. (I tackle this topic at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/people-know-when-end-year-jack-silverstein/)
  6. Organizations aren’t entitled to donor loyalty. They must first earn it and then constantly re-earn it. (I examine donor giving societies at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-donor-societies-work-jack-silverstein/)
  7. To be successful, donor cultivation must be embraced by the whole organization. It is not just a tool to be used by the fundraising department. (see my article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/using-program-staff-expert-witnesses-jack-silverstein/)

So many times donors are testing you (often without even realizing it themselves). What are you going to do with the gift I just gave? When will I hear back from you? How did this gift make me feel?

I receive hundreds of snail mail and email solicitations in a year. I read each and every one of them and try to think of how I arrived on their list. Are these solicitations to organizations I supported at one time? Are they still a priority? Or, perhaps, how the heck did my info get sent to this organization? (see my article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-many-us-have-heard-olive-cooke-tragedy-jack-silverstein/ about over mailing)

I would suggest that an annual solicitation letter is not stewardship. It is most likely the least amount of effort that someone can put it to procure a 1.5% response rate. I’m not condemning direct mail, rather I would suggest that the charities should get to know their donors more and possibly put more of a concerted effort into stewardship.

Until next week,