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Closing the Circle

I’d never heard the term Closing the Circle until I attended a major gift symposium recently. One of the sessions I attended had to do with stewardship. The facilitator made a big deal, and rightfully so, of the importance of “closing the circle:” in other words, the intelligent use of gifts, reporting back on gift impact, thanking, informing, and involving donors.

All of the above, of course, to cultivate donors for that next gift or, ideally, many future gifts, if we’re being honest.

When your organization stewards a donor it should consider a strategy that confirms to the donor his or her wise decision to make the original gift and to draw that donor ever closer to the organization.

Taking that idea a step further, and much like a culture of philanthropy, stewardship is really a behavior pattern that should exist and run through your entire development program designed to continually expand the relationship between your organization and its donors.

As fundraisers, you really do have a responsibility to your donors to make sure that your organization’s programs are delivering impact and to report back to the donor on that impact.

So, stewardship begins with delivering on your promises, but it also must include:

  • Gift acknowledgement

  • Formal donor recognition

  • Annual reports

  • Newsletter and program guides

  • Personal letters

  • Telephone calls

  • Personal visits

A structured plan is what differentiates true stewardship from mechanical gift acknowledgement. However, doing the unexpected when communicating with your donors proves to them that you truly regard them as best friends.

That’s why it’s important to search out opportunities to share news with donors as though you were sharing it with a close friend.

Have I missed anything on stewardship? Can you add some of the strategies that you use to draw your donors closer to your organization?

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