The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Director of First Impressions.

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Alva is not just the receptionist at one of my client organizations.  She’s the Director of First Impressions & Stewardship.  The other day, while I was waiting to go upstairs to a meeting, I had the opportunity to overhear a few of her conversations with callers.

With her sunny voice and helpful attitude she provided good stewardship to everyone who called.  One donor called asking for a staff person’s cell phone number.  Alva suggested that the donor leave a voice mail message “since all staff frequently check voice mail while away.”  Instead of telling the donor, “I can’t give out a cell phone number” she turned what could have been a negative into a positive.  In response to another caller, I watched as Alva picked up what looked like a laminated fact sheet that gave her the answers to the callers questions and a referral number.

As you can probably tell if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m obsessed with stewardship:  the absence of it and also citing examples that are good.  I honestly think it’s one of the most pressing problems we face as gift planners. With only 60% of PPP members surveyed reporting that they have a formal stewardship plan, it’s no surpise that stewardship gets short shrift.  That’s in spite of the fact that research shows that if properly stewarded, bequest size goes up exponentially.

I guess it’s our obsession with the gift, rather than what happens after the gift.  Even though, as Penelope Burke says, “the gift is just a symbol of the relationship, it’s not the relationship.”

Who answers your phone?  Is it even a human being?  Is that person (or persons) armed with guidance about his or her importance to the organization and with FAQs or other information needed to be helpful?


P.S.  I’ll be speaking on stewardship at the Bridge Conference in DC, July 27th.  I hope I’ll see you there.  For those who can’t attend, I’ll post my slides after the presentation.


Written by Phyllis Freedman

May 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm

One Response

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  1. Phyllis,
    Excellent post. A prime example of getting the basics right which I worry that we collectively forget to focus on in our rush to chase the new, novel and trendy.

    Kirk Kirkpatrick

    May 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

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