Summer-Lovin-20172This summer, the Donor By Design Team is considering new ways grow the relationship with our donors… moving beyond the thank you note to a deeper connection. Today’s topic: making stewardship authentic and personal. 


Authentic and personal stewardship. We all strive to deliver it. We know it when we see it. And yet oftentimes we miss the mark. We work so hard to develop a plan and design an organizational system, that we forget to “love” our donors when and in such a way that it really strikes home.

Those of you who know me personally know I lost my mother a few months ago. She was awesome to so many people and on so many levels. She also was a long-time YMCA staff team member. Both she and my dad spent the majority of their careers at the YMCA in Waycross, Georgia.

Mothers-day-Jan-375x500On Mother’s Day weekend, both my brother and I (who are also donors) were honored with a special gift from this Y and a card that read, ”We miss her too.”

It wasn’t the cookies, treats or cute tote bag that came in the box that touched us the most. It was those words. My mom was every kid in town’s second mom and they had just acknowledged our loss in a personally touching, special manner at the most appropriate time – Mother’s Day.

As you look through your donor list and plan your summer, how can you make your recognition efforts more authentic and personal… and thereby more meaningful?


Start by recognizing your donors as individuals and make sure you know what is important to them.

Go through the calendar and look for natural recognition opportunities. Valentines Day, Thanksgiving and traditional holidays are great, but so are days like Mother’s/Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the anniversary of a major gift, or even national Doughnut Day. (someone loves them!)

Don’t limit yourself to the formal communication pieces. One of the best Major Gift officers I know is ALWAYS on her phone sending a text, a photo, or a video of programs in action to her donors and they love it!

When you are the one helping to develop the formal pieces, how do your messages sound? Do they sound the same as your solicitation pieces? Do they sound personal, authentic and with a true sense of gratitude and honest feedback as to the impact?

And last but certainly not least, are you building a plan for how to acknowledge your staff donors? If we genuinely love them for stretching their limited salaries to support our mission and we speak positively to and about them, won’t they do the same for those in their circle?

Let’s all commit to showering our donors with deliberate, thoughtful, honest and genuine thanks and love! It matters!

Posted by Jan Brogdon
Jan Brogdon

Written by Jan Brogdon

Jan Brogdon, CFRE, is an experienced member of the DBD Team focused on working with a diverse group of nonprofit leaders who are looking to connect their work in communities with donors who are seeking to make a difference. With more than 30 years of professional experience, Jan has a strong track record in supporting annual giving strategies including the use of direct response, peer-to-peer fundraising, radical stewardship, and year-round major gift programs in support of signature programs.

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