Stewardship means different things to different people. To environmentalists it is the responsible use and protection of the natural environment, while in theology it means how we use our time, talents, and material possessions for the service of God. Historically it meant the servant’s domestic duties for service and management of the household. But in fundraising today it is recognized as the acceptance of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.
Perhaps Henry Rosso, author and pioneer in fundraising and stewardship, said it best when he said, “stewardship is trust, responsibility, liability, accountability, integrity, faith, and guardianship.”
Strong stewardship starts with the board, but is frequently conveyed and implemented by staff, all of whom must have a deep commitment to these principles. It is imperative that those on the front line working with donors, the fundraisers or development staff, live and breathe true stewardship. The August 14th issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy noted the difficulty in finding these front-line people in their article, “Charities Scramble Over In-Demand Fundraisers.” According to the article it takes a minimum of six months to replace a development director. The article points out that being a great fundraiser “requires a rare set of skills, including listening deeply to donors, persistence, and patience with the slow dance of courtship and solicitation. It takes humility—a willingness to put a supporter’s needs ahead of one’s own career ambitions. And it takes an abiding passion and understanding of the cause for which support is being sought.” Wow, that is stewardship.
At the Community Foundation we’re entirely focused on the donor’s wishes and sometimes, in order to help a donor accomplish impactful giving that they know is truly making a difference, we spend time listening to and educating the donor. Frankly, we are never in a hurry. But when a gift arrangement is completed, and then as the impact of the gift unfolds, we have a chance to see the result of following a great process.
We recognize the incredible privilege and honor of helping people with their charitable giving. Personally, I aspire to the amazing life and career, and impact, of the gifts made through the stewardship of Henry “Hank” Rosso. If you or a client have not yet experienced true stewardship with your charitable giving, please give us a call. You talk, we’ll listen, and then we’ll work on your charitable goals together.
We connect people who care with causes that matter.
Chris Askin, President & CEO