Authentic and Personal

June 7, 2017



Written By: Jan

By Jan Brogdon

This summer, the Donor By Design Team is considering new ways grow the relationship with our donors… moving beyond the thank you note to a deeper connection. Today’s topic: making stewardship authentic and personal. 


Authentic and personal stewardship. We all strive to deliver it. We know it when we see it. And yet oftentimes we miss the mark. We work so hard to develop a plan and design an organizational system, that we forget to “love” our donors when and in such a way that it really strikes home.

Those of you who know me personally know I lost my mother a few months ago. She was awesome to so many people and on so many levels. She also was a long-time YMCA staff team member. Both she and my dad spent the majority of their careers at the YMCA in Waycross, Georgia.

On Mother’s Day weekend, both my brother and I (who are also donors) were honored with a special gift from this Y and a card that read, ”We miss her too.”

It wasn’t the cookies, treats or cute tote bag that came in the box that touched us the most. It was those words. My mom was every kid in town’s second mom and they had just acknowledged our loss in a personally touching, special manner at the most appropriate time – Mother’s Day.

As you look through your donor list and plan your summer, how can you make your recognition efforts more authentic and personal… and thereby more meaningful?

  • Start by recognizing your donors as individuals and make sure you know what is important to them.
  • Go through the calendar and look for natural recognition opportunities. Valentines Day, Thanksgiving and traditional holidays are great, but so are days like Mother’s/Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the anniversary of a major gift, or even national Doughnut Day. (someone loves them!)
  • Don’t limit yourself to the formal communication pieces. One of the best Major Gift officers I know is ALWAYS on her phone sending a text, a photo, or a video of programs in action to her donors and they love it!
  • When you are the one helping to develop the formal pieces, how do your messages sound? Do they sound the same as your solicitation pieces? Do they sound personal, authentic and with a true sense of gratitude and honest feedback as to the impact?
  • And last but certainly not least, are you building a plan for how to acknowledge your staff donors? If we genuinely love them for stretching their limited salaries to support our mission and we speak positively to and about them, won’t they do the same for those in their circle?

Let’s all commit to showering our donors with deliberate, thoughtful, honest and genuine thanks and love! It matters!

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4 responses to “Authentic and Personal”

  1. John Alexander says:

    Jan, thanks for the excellent advice. Your mother raised you well!! Thanks for following her example.

  2. Jan Brogdon says:

    Thank you John! I do think she’s smiling!

  3. Greg Giles says:

    Thank you Jan for the reminder to love our donors.
    Sincerely Greg

  4. Jan Jan says:

    I’d love to hear from anyone else that wants to share their favorite stewardship story as well.