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What is the difference between stewardship and donor relations?

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Donor relations encompasses all the different types of things you can do to engage people with your mission, such as social media posts, direct mail, Constant Contact communications and newsletters. Donor relations encourages people who have given – or might give – to become involved with your mission, whether by volunteering in-kind, or donating cash.

Donor stewardship, on the other hand, is how you say “thank you” to someone who has given a gift and how you continue to tell them their gift is having an impact. When nonprofits don’t acknowledge a gift, that’s where they fail and why they don’t have a strong retention rate.

A donor relations strategy must include strong donor stewardship. There should be a plan in place to tell donors the impact their gift made on your mission, from the moment they write that check or swipe their credit card, all the way through. Then, you will have a strong retention rate and won’t have to go looking for new donors, because your donors will come back time after time.

If you have a burning question about nonprofits, please reach out to us at Sharity. You can email me at, contact us through the website, or message us through LinkedIn or Facebook.