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Engage with Gratitude: Continue Fundraising Conversations with Stewardship

A smiling woman talks on the phone while sitting in front of her laptop.

Let's talk about stewardship—stewardship practices that show our donors way more love than when we just heap on the praise and gratitude.  


We think about donor stewardship as Engaging with Gratitude. When we engage with gratitude, we prioritize connecting donors with opportunities to further their understanding of the complexity, power, and wisdom of the community by engaging in two-way exchanges instead of one-way praise.  

It’s a more loving approach to stewardship because when we teach donors that they have the power to take values-aligned action, their gifts can feel so much bigger to them and to us as fundraisers. Donors and fundraisers feel our power to live our values and create change. 


What does Engaging with Gratitude look like? It’s continuation of the conversations you had in Values-Based Cultivation. Real, authentic conversations around the values your organization and the donor share. 


Try this: Next time you thank a donor for a gift, follow your expression of gratitude with a question like: 


  • How did it feel to make your gift? 

  • What feelings led you to decide to give? 

  • Who do you want to tell about this gift? Why? 

  • Do you feel differently about your relationship to our community after this gift? 


Questions like this keep the conversation going. In contrast, when you express your gratitude, tell donors how you’ll use their gift, and emphasize how important their gift is to your mission – like many of us were trained to do, it’s the end of the conversation. 


Feeling questions also tap into a different part of our experience as humans. It’s called social-emotional learning and it’s a tool you can lean on in growth relationships with your donors.  


When we engage donors in conversations about their feelings during the giving process, we create a space for them to reflect on the impact of their contribution not just on the community but on their own sense of fulfillment. We necessarily complicate the giving act so that we can authentically draw donors into the complexity of our missions and the systems that have made them necessary. 


We’ve seen, in our years practicing Values-Based Fundraising, that sharing our feelings and bringing emotions into fundraising conversations helps donors connect with you, the fundraiser, better.  


It will bring you—like it’s brought us—ease and joy and deep and lasting relationships with people who really care about your mission. 

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