A “Donor Stewardship” way of life

Envelope 1024X864pxI’m worried about Lenora. I haven’t heard from her in awhile, and I fear age has caught up with her. Last time she pledged, she wrote that she had reduced her giving level and might not be able to give anything at all in 2017. What I like least is that letters remain unresponded to (but not returned with the dreaded “deceased” notation), phone calls aren’t answered, and she doesn’t do email.

Now, maybe I fall for people too easily, but Lenora has supported Spark Freedom for five years. She grouched at me and even sent a “personal and confidential” note to my boss until I hit on the title she preferred for correspondence.

Daniel Erspamer of SPN says, “You have to thank donors all the time, beginning as soon as they offer a gift.” His guidance has become our development program’s mandate. If a donation isn’t acknowledged in two business days, I feel horrible. If a donor doesn’t receive a welcome or information packet on time, we have let them down. These people are not just how we keep Spark Freedom’s doors open, they’re a large part of why and a very special part of our team. Only because of supporters can we do our dream-supporting, mission-upholding, vision-aiming communications training work. No surprise that we want them to know it.

Spark Freedom’s donor stewardship way of life includes:

  • Immediate thank-you letter, personally signed, with official tax receipt
  • Handwritten note or phone call (depends on whether we have their phone number)
  • Donor welcome or info packet (depends on whether this is their first gift)
  • Handwritten note – from someone else on staff if they’ve already gotten one
  • Info packet if it’s a new donor
  • Independence Day and Christmas cards
  • December donor gift (negligible dollar value)
  • Newsletter
  • Donation statement for prior year’s contributions before the end of January
  • Invitation to visit with a staff person who’s serendipitously traveling in their neck of the woods
  • The expectation that we will recognize their name any time they get in touch
  • Plus immediate response to any question, complaint, or comment they offer

All this is in addition to asking for money at regular intervals – in separate communications.

As far as I know, the only thing the law requires is the first item, but these benefactors are part of our team, so the minimum effort has no meaning.

I believe it’s the sincerity of our actions and our attitude that make the difference.

We treat foundations like individuals, with the necessary adjustments to a collective entity rather than a single household or person. More about that in a separate article, soon.

Like or dislike this post? Let me know: Lani@SparkFreedom.org