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Kelly Segal Consulting

Derailed by Covid? Probably. Time to Lay New Tracks for Strategy and Stewardship

Every article I’ve read over the past month starts with these four words:

“In these unprecedented times…”


Sound familiar? And chances are that you, like me, felt the surge, then decline, of adrenaline levels as we shifted work online, saw our colleagues positioned in front of neutral-painted, bedroom closet doors, managed to do some actual work–then burned out as our eyes glazed over from spending 8 hours+ in front of our screens.


Many adaptation techniques are innovative and impressive, but they aren’t designed for the long haul. Nevertheless, we can get some work done, but in different ways.


Wondering what to do while it seems like the world stands still?


 Engage in “The Great Stewardship Experiment”.


What’s that?  It’s using tailored involvement opportunities and targeted communication to create individualized, long-term plans that deepen engagement and increase giving.


Moves management, the process by which we formally keep track of donor/volunteer involvement trajectories, is considered an organizational best practice. Any moves management at all is good, but how it’s done significantly matters.


Given day-to-day constraints, most moves management ends up being a reactive process where we update our databases or spreadsheets after something happens with a donor/prospect. In this vein, our tracking systems become institutional memory mechanisms rather than tools for thoughtful, strategic engagement.


With found time on our hands, try proactive moves management. First, choose 15-20 high-potential prospects, then design a strategy document—a 12-month, detailed plan for engagement/stewardship. Strategy documents have:

  • Engagement moves: committee participation invites, event/program invites, targeted calls from staff and/or leadership, long and/or short-term leadership positions, etc.
  • Stewardship moves: site visits based on interest, appreciation calls from org. leadership, occasion reach outs (i.e.: birthdays, graduations, etc.), shout-outs at meetings or events, etc.
  • Fundraising goals: with proper engagement and stewardship, the amount you’d like to see their financial investment in the organization increase; long-term or multi-year gift possibilities; special projects or initiative giving opportunities; etc.


Engagement and stewardship moves on strategy documents should always have target dates, as well as the person/people responsible for their execution. While strategies are excellent moves management tracking devices, they work because they are donor-centric (thoughtful of the donor’s needs, wants, and experience) first, and specifically designed for maximum clarity and organizational accountability. Though outcomes are outside dependent, and certainly vary given any number of factors, I do this often, and have rarely seen it fail to produce significant results.


While we wait out this current situation, why not take the opportunity to run your own strategy experiment?


  • April 25, 2020
    Amy Mitman

    Spot on!

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