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Your Ten-Minute Stewardship Plan

The average donor retention rate is hovering around 40-45% annually across the nonprofit sector. This means we are losing close to half our donors every year! This is the result of not managing or stewarding gifts as donors intended and not updating donors on the progress and impact of their gifts.

Steward the gift, cultivate the donor

According to QGiv:

Donor stewardship is the process that occurs once a donor has given to your organization. Specifically, stewardship refers to the relationship-building and communications that take place after the gift has been received.

Stewardship involves managing gifts as donors intended, updating donors on the progress and impact of their gifts, and easing donors into the cultivation process by keeping them involved with your organization. Ultimately, stewardship is about meeting a donor’s gift intentions and expectations within the parameters of your organization to create a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Do you have a stewardship plan?

How many of you have a stewardship plan? A written, detailed plan that is used

to regularly steward your donors. If you’re not raising your hand, don’t worry. There is a way to strengthen donor relationships with small amounts of intentional stewardship.

While best practices show that we should connect or touch our donors seven times between solicitations, we can get caught up in how to create those touches.

By scheduling short blocks of time to focus on stewardship, you can actually build a strong and engaged donor base.

10-minute stewardship plan

  • Make a list: (1) call a recent donor, (2) send an email to a few monthly donors, (3) write out a special thank you note to a few key donors. (4) Even text a few donors you know well.

  • Set aside 10-minute blocks.

  • Schedule these on your calendar throughout the week.

  • Include your boss and board members.

  • Share a few names with them to call.

  • Keep it up!

  • Create a new habit of weekly stewardship.

This plan requires that you know your donors and their preferred communication methods. If you have ten minutes, then you know not to call your lovely chatty donor for a quick conversation. Save her call for your trip home so you can have a little longer conversation.

  • The donor retention range over the past five years was 43.6 – 47.2%.

  • In 2020, the donor retention rate in the U.S. was 43.6%.

  • In 2018, for every 100 donors gained, 105 donors were lost through attrition.

  • Donor attrition impacts fundraising effectiveness.

Good stewardship doesn’t have to be expensive or labor-intensive to be effective. The key is to be consistent and genuine in your appreciation of your donors.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in startup and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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