How to apply a stewardship framework to different sized trusts and foundations

How to apply a stewardship framework to different sized trusts and foundations

Guest Bloggers | 4 February 2019

Emma Edwards and Emma Thomson from Marie Curie look at how to design a stewardship framework for charitable trusts and foundations when they vary so much in size and structure, ahead of their session at today's Trust Fundraising Conference.

Charitable trust and foundations are now coming in more shapes and sizes than ever before. Some are very large organisations with clearly defined areas of interests and set application processes, while others are smaller, with less formal application processes and gifts much more influenced by their hearts. So, when considering a stewardship framework for this varied group of donors, the challenge is in designing a system which is also flexible enough to adapt to the unique differences between trusts.

At Marie Curie when we designed our stewardship system we considered three key questions:

1. What is essential?
2. What makes the donor feel special?
3. What is the end goal?

1. What is essential?

It may seem simple but thanking a trust or foundation immediately after they have given a gift is crucial. Trustees and Grant Managers often look through and manage several applications and – regardless of the size of the gift - thanking them quickly for their generosity in awarding your organisation with a gift is a must.

After thanking has taken place what is deemed as essential stewardship varies and is dependent on the requirements of each trust and what level of stewardship they would like. This can vary depending on what the trust or foundations requests, such as a certain number of reports throughout the year, or on how much communication they would like to receive from you at all.

A key aspect to consider though is who from your organisation the majority of stewardship pieces will be sent from. A fundraiser may not always be best placed to do this and stewardship could be received more warmly from a member of the senior team, service team or a senior volunteer.

Understanding and defining what you deem as essential stewardship will make up the core fabric of your stewardship framework. 

2. What makes the donor feel special?

This is the part of your framework which lets you be creative and which can be more memorable. Things which you could do include; event invites, project visits, bespoke gifts (maybe if they have reached a particular giving milestone), or public recognition. You may choose to give a certain number of special pieces to people giving between a certain amount, additional pieces for those who give more, and so on. Or maybe you would choose to structure it by project, lifetime value, or number of years giving - so long as it works for your organisation and your donors.

3. What is the end goal? 

Your stewardship framework needs to fulfil a goal. Therefore when designing your framework keep asking yourself “will this help us get to x/achieve y”. For us at Marie Curie, our goal was to deepen relationships which each donor in a way that they would want. Therefore when working through each essential and special stage we would ask ourselves if it will do this.

By asking yourself these three questions you should be able to build a framework that can go across your own pool of donors, while at the same time also be personalised to the needs of each one.

Take a look at the Institute of Fundraising's other training and events here.

Emma Edwards, Major Gifts Manager, Marie Curie and Emma Thomson, Senior Case for Support and Stewardship Officer, Marie Curie

 

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