Stewardship

Cultivating lasting relationships is an important aspect of fundraising.  Showing appreciation for past contributions and staying in contact with donors for future donations greatly increases the chances of continued giving - and giving at a higher level.  Major donors and planned giving donors are an important source of financial support for your library, but also a key source of advocacy, community awareness and involvement.  Your library’s ongoing relationship with them is vitally important. How can you foster this relationship?

  • Stay connected with these donors on a regular basis by sending them your library’s regular communication, as well as holiday cards and special communications as occasions arise.
  • Invite them to special events that your library is hosting. 
  • Recognize these individuals at those events or host an event in their honor. 
  • If your library has a special event planned, include them in a “Major Donors” section or table to underscore their importance, and encourage them to wear a token of appreciation such as a ribbon or lapel pin to show off their status.
  • Follow-up phone calls from high ranking officials within your library, such as a Director, Trustee or head of your Friends or Foundation should always accompany a major gift.  Stewarding gifts in this manner may even lead to more such gifts in the future.
  • Send correspondence showing results from their contribution.  This could be a letter outlining stories from individuals impacted directly by a donation, or an occasional phone call to report on the impact of their donation.

Miscellaneous Matters to Consider

  • To make sure that these supporters don’t “fall through the cracks” when staff changes or is pressed for time, it can be very beneficial to have a specific process for acknowledgement and stewardship in writing, standardized and saved as a file that can be reviewed at any time.  This will include procedures and amounts for becoming a major donor or planned giving member, as well as how each gift is to be recognized.
  • Some people truly want their privacy, and donors should have the ability to make donations anonymously.  They will still receive an acknowledgement response letter noting their contribution for tax deduction purposes, but all other display of their gift should go under the tag “Anonymous”.  This also applies to major donors and planned giving members.
  • Keep a record of how people would like to be addressed, i.e. “Mr. John Smith, Esq.” vs. “John Smith” vs. “Jane and John Smith and Family”. 

Conclusion

Many people involved with fundraising find that asking for a gift “is the hardest part”. (It may be hard at first, but it will get easier the more you do it.) On the other hand, thanking someone for their support can be one of the most rewarding moments in fundraising, both for you as well as for the donor.  Proper recognition of someone’s gift can be a deeply moving experience for everyone.  A gift is the result of an individual’s strong belief in all the good things the library has to offer.  Thanking a donor completes that circle and lets them know how much they and their gift in turn mean to you and to the library community.

8. Building Relationships with Donors: Identification, Cultivation, Solication, and Stewardship

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