Donor Stewardship

Recognizing the value of a donor as they tell you about their plans

Stewarding Bequest Donors

Stewardship Tree Growth

Along with the Donor Cultivation Cycle, donor stewardship is another essential concept to master as a development professional. While cultivating and soliciting a donor properly helps secure the gift, proper donor stewardship ensures that the donor transforms into a loyal supporter and advocate of your cause.

According to Indiana University’s Adrian Sargeant, it costs about five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to retain a loyal one. Donor retention represents a financially-responsible way to build a sustainable fundraising business model, while also cultivating meaningful relationships with donors.

Stewardship involves saying thank you, but contains so much more. Stewardship also includes:

  • Reporting back to donors consistently about the results achieved through their donations
  • Following through on donor recognition, like publishing names in the appropriate donor giving circles or installing plaques and naming rights for major donors
  • Sending Thanksgiving or Valentine’s cards to thank donors or to celebrate your shared love for the cause
  • Discovering if you can reach out to the family or executor of a bequest to share your gratitude and keep them updated
  • Sending small tokens of gratitude sent throughout the year, whether those are purchased gifts or low-cost and no-cost solutions, like letters or artwork from your program participants

Learn more about donor stewardship with  free stewardship resources from

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