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Survey finds wide range of interpretations on 'fundraising stewardship'

Fifty six per cent of respondents to the ongoing Relationship Marketing Stewardship Survey think that there should be a “common, accepted definition” of fundraising stewardship, according to interim analysis. Unfortunately, there is little consensus in the sector about what stewardship is.
For example, while 64% of respondents think that thanking donors promptly and politely is an “essential” part of stewardship, 13% see it as only a “building block of stewardship” while 16% consider it to be a “self-contained definition” of fundraising stewardship.
Similarly, whereas 29% think that “ensuring all donors everywhere can give more for longer periods of time” is not part of fundraising stewardship, 26% of respondents think that the very similar “acting to ensure the sustainability of the pool of public donations” is an essential part of stewardship.
Director of development at Relationship Marketing, Gordon Michie, who devised the survey, is not surprised. “The patterns that are emerging are telling us what we expected – that there is a wide range of opinion among fundraisers about what constitutes ‘stewardship’, he said.
“While we are seeing some patterns emerging, there isn’t really any part of the survey that gives the impression that fundraisers are speaking with a single voice. And while we have a majority of people saying they think fundraisers need a standardised definition of stewardship, there’s a substantial minority that don’t think we need it.”
Michie last year wrote a White Paper on stewardship – ‘Pretenders to the Steward Throne’, available from SOFII.
One-to-one meetings with donors should play a “crucial role” in delivering stewardship programmes, according to 50% of respondents. Telephone, email and direct mail should a play “major role”. Face to face, SMS and social networking websites however were judged as less important techniques for stewardship.
Michie said: “It will be fascinating as we drill down into these responses to discover what correlations there are between how fundraisers scored definitions of stewardship and how they rated communications methods.”
The full survey results will be presented at Blackbaud’s annual conference, facilitated by Professor Stephen Lee of Henley Management College, to be held in London on 20 October 2008.
The survey is still active and will remain open throughout the summer. Relationship Marketing is actively encouraging new respondents to complete the survey.