The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Stewardship done right: #2

leave a comment »

An interesting package came in the mail to me last week from the University of Texas at Austin that sets the bar, again, for stewardship done right.  First a little background.  Penelope Burk of Cygnus Applied Research spoke at the recent Planned Giving Days in DC on “Donor Centered Fundraising.”  One of her main points was that the reason donors remain indefinitely loyal to an organization and increase their giving over time is because the nonprofit meets a very few, very basic donor needs:  (1) prompt acknowledgement of the gift, (2) an acknowledgement that is meaningful in the sense that it reports back to the donor how the gift was used and as specifically as possible, and (3) a report of measurable results achieved with the help of the gift, ideally before the second request for a donation. 

In my post of May 5th, I talked a bit about my experience as a legacy donor to the UT School of Architecture and I complimented the School on their stewardship of me.  Then I received this most recent communication from the University that could have been pulled directly from Penelope’s playbook.  The outer envelope, in large type, proclaims “Get the facts,” with a sub-title “Fast Facts 2009 Brochure Enclosed.”  The cover letter, signed by the Chancellor, says, in part, “Fast Facts is an annual publication that provides an at-a-glance overview of the UT System as a whole.  The numbers for 2008 are undeniably impressive . . .  Your past gifts have enabled the UT System to achieve these remarkable results.  And, with your continued trust and support I know we will achieve much more.”

The cornerstone of the mailing is a saddle-stitched, 2-color booklet printed on plain paper (nothing fancy)that includes lots of statistics along with several pages describing the University’s “groundbreaking initiatives.”  The booklet also has information about the financials of the system.  All in all, a really well done package that respects the fact that I don’t have alot of time (the name Fast Facts helps signal this) but also respects my need for reassurance as to how my gifts are having an impact. Here it is.
UT Booklet Cover
Not a slick annual report, the booklet offers, in easily digestable portions, information about how the University, with my help, is making a difference.


P.S.  I get asked alot about how to manage the communication with a donor when there is more than one entity on the receiving end of the gift, such as a college within a university system or a chapter or affiliate of a national organization.  First of all, I don’t think you can ever thank a donor too often so I’m not all that worried about thank yous coming from both places.  And, I don’t worry much, either, about donor confusion.  This mailing is a great example of how that kind of communication can be handled effectively.  The letter mentions that the booklet is about the UT System as a whole.  Without having to acknowledge that my passion is the School of Architecture, or apologize for not focusing on it, they bring me thanks, news and measurable impact from the parent.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

June 2, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: