Friday is Stewardship Day

At our small development team, we’ve decided to make Friday’s stewardship days. We believe it helps us focus on current donors, and think strategically about our prospects. The world thinks clearly on Friday afternoons when there are less emails visiting us.

It is also a great day to write “thank you” letters that carry meaning and not terse, dull statements. Friday’s are also good to do catch-up work on all those emails that we felt carried no sense but we were obliged to respond.

In a world of information overload, we want to make sure our donors come first. Let them know that we care for them, understand their needs and are grateful for their support. So, as we juggle multiple priorities,  set aside Friday’s for stewardship. Without stewardship, philanthropy never works.

A smart donor is a focused donor

Who is a smart donor?

The rich one, the venture capitalist with an aching altruistic feeling or the one who wants to leave a legacy? There is no specific answer to what motivates one to give. However, money alone will not bring  real impact.

In a recent discussion,  three foundation leaders, Sheila Leddy of the NewYork- based Fledgling Fund, Dick Donaldson, of the Ohio-based Donaldson Charitable Gift Fund and  Janis Reischmann, of the Hawaii-based  Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation, came to a very clear conclusion: A smart donor is a focused donor. According to Sara Beggs at the Association of Small Foundations, organizers of a Webinar on this topic, “focusing your giving leads to greater fulfillment.”

 Donors start focusing their giving when:

  1.  They ask if their funds have had an impact
  2.  They want to know how they could involve their children
  3. And, when they decide to say NO to the large number of requests they get

Focused donors look at common passion, shared values or immediate linkages to a personal issue. For instance, a donor who saw  a family member die of cancer might look at giving to health-related causes. Others would like to invest in real people and see transformative changes on a first-hand basis.  Smart donors want to be catalysts for real, measurable change.

Smart donors conduct a through scan of their environment. They talk to people running non-profit entities, try to get involved and understand what they are doing before deciding to invest. Some others opt for extensive  data mining before they decide to invest. They like to personalize where their funding goes, they want to be realistic about impact, would love to listen and are willing to make mid-course changes if things don’t work out.

In conclusion, a focused donor is a smart donor. The donor builds expertise in an area of philanthropic investment, becomes an effective partner and nurtures long-term relationships.