Stewardship is the strategic process that begins after a donor makes a gift to your university. This entails thanking them, while keeping them up-to-date on the impact of their gift. Most importantly though, stewardship should be thought of as cultivation towards their next gift. Here are eight strategies to accomplish this:

Thank You

First and foremost, a personal thank you phone call and hand written note should be done immediately. It is important that this comes from the person in a leadership role of where the gift is directed.

Meet Ups

If you have the chance for the donor to meet those effected by their gift, do it. This could be done over a luncheon where you bring in the students or faculty to tell more about themselves and their work. Seeing the impact of their gift in person can go a long way in keeping the donor loyal to your school.


If the donor is unable to meet the benefactors of their gift, videos are an excellent second option. This is especially true for scholarship gifts where the student receiving the scholarship personally thanks the donors. Be sure to also have the students talk about themselves: hometown, major, internship, extracurricular activities and plans after college.


Websites can be created about a particular gift to tell the story of the donation and the effect it will have on your school. These websites work well if you are trying to raise more money around a project besides the donor’s initial seed funding.

Donor Reports

Reports should be sent out each year to the donor that show exactly how their money is being used. These reports should include photos and quotes from the people most effected by the gift.

News Story

If your university news or marketing team is amenable to it, see if they will write a story about the donor and the effect of their gift. Many donors love the press, especially if it goes out in your alumni magazine.


Depending on the size and type of gift, you might be able to have an event in honor of the donation. This is especially true with naming opportunities like if the donor names a new laboratory. You can do an event to unveil the new name and have students talk about how the space will be utilized.


Awards are excellent stewardship tools to show your appreciation for a donor. If you don’t have an award, make one up!

Overall stewardship should always be thought of as cultivation towards the donors next gift. If you are able to impress the donor with a high level of stewardship, they may come back with an even bigger gift.

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