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What do fundraisers understand by 'stewardship'?

What do fundraisers understand by 'stewardship'?

Fundraising agency Relationship Marketing wants to know what fundraisers think about fundraising ‘stewardship’ and have today launched an online survey to do so.

The survey has been devised by Gordon Michie, director of development at Relationship Marketing, and author of 2007’s white paper on fundraising stewardship, Pretenders to the Steward Throne.

Michie explains that the term ‘stewardship’ can be confusing. “The problem, which I highlighted in my white paper and which we still encounter all the time, is that fundraisers keep talking about stewardship but no-one can really give a firm definition of what stewardship – when applied to fundraising – actually is,” he said.

“Some people talk about it as if it’s donor care, others as if it’s relationship fundraising and others as if it’s just being nice to people. Stewardship really is all things to all fundraisers.

With the information from the survey Michie hopes to develop some core concepts and benchmarks about what fundraising stewardship ought to be.

The survey is divided into three sections: what is stewardship; what communications methods can be used to deliver stewardship; and how can stewardship be measured?

The final section on measurement asks fundraisers to rate on a 5-point scale 13 possible key performance indicators and key indicators of success that could be used to measure stewardship programmes. These include reduction in complaints, donors thanked within specified time, non-donors begin to give, donors are more committed.

Michie said: “The results of the Relationship Marketing Stewardship Survey will give us a much clearer picture of what fundraisers think stewardship is, how it can be delivered and how it can be measured. This will provide us with a concrete benchmark to allow us to move forward and genuinely begin developing stewardship as a fundraising concept.”

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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