Developing a sustainable process for donor stewardship is vital to strengthening the relationship between your donors and the charity. Good stewardship will set the stage for increased retention, gift upgrading, and potential planned or major gifts.

Donor stewardship is vital to long-term success of your organization. It must be considered as important as fulfilling your mission and balancing the checkbook every month. It’s not a “nice to have” but a “must have” principle for your organization and needs to be treated as such, from the top down.

From the C-Suite and Board Room to the staff or volunteer answering the phone or mail, every touch point with the public becomes a point for building, affirming, and strengthening relationships.

There are many ways of establishing or refining your stewardship program. You need to make it unique to the personality of your charity and its constituents. There is no one size fits all.

A good place to start is the review your donor base and decide which groups will be best for certain levels of stewardship. Everyone needs to have a stewardship plan, but some will be more robust and involved. Decide what is possible with your staff and resources, and re-allocate time and money if needed.

Develop your tactics for each level or category of donors and supporters. It could be as simple as providing a thank you phone call or hand-written note to every new donor. Sometimes organizations doen’t believe there is a positive cost/benefit to taking the time to do this – but even a simple tactic like this will pay huge dividends over the long run.

Become a stewardship advocate and then become an evangelist for this effort within your charity. You will face resistance, but the long-term benefits will be worth the effort!

For more on stewardship and learn about developing a concrete plan read — How to Create a Step-by-Step Donor Stewardship Plan