Receiving gifts or sponsorship from companies or individuals is not where the relationship ends. This seems obvious when a sponsoring company is promised benefits and visibility, such as with an event, because the student group needs to deliver on the sponsorship package and have a successful event. When taken a step further, groups must recognize that stewardship is about the overall relationship and does not conclude with the end of an event or the academic year.
Saying thank you is only one key element of stewardship. Stewardship can take many forms and be instrumental in keeping your sponsors and donors in good standing, and more likely to give again in the future.
Examples of stewardship include:
- Personal thank-you letter: email is fine for following up quickly but a letter communicates more care and effort
- Newsletter, impact report, etc.: updating sponsors/donors on progress, project completion and specific use of funds
- Recognition/visibility: displaying the sponsor’s logo on event materials and team website, thanking the company and specific rep, hosting a networking event for sponsors only
The other areas where stewardship is essential but not so obvious is in gift accounting and team succession planning. By following the proper gift procedure and utilizing the resources provided by our Office and the University, tax receipts and gift acknowledgements are automatically generated. Properly tracking solicitations of corporate sponsors will make stewardship and the gift process simpler when funding or in-kind gifts arrive.
Team succession planning is important because if the succeeding sponsorship chair does not know the appropriate contact at a company, then the relationship could end there. Having that contact information available, and especially making an introduction for the new position lead, may be the difference in having a successful event or getting the proper materials for a competitive project.