One of the most common things I hear among midlevel fundraisers is that the key to getting the stewardship investment right is to figure out the minimum stewardship spend that will keep the donors giving.

On the surface that seems entirely reasonable and strategic. But it may also reflect an attitude toward your donors that reduces them to spreadsheet data. We say we never treat donors as ATMs, but is it true?

If all you care about your donors is their RFM data, that attitude will become apparent to the donors. And when your donors feel abused, you know what happens next.

Donor retention begins with you. Do you see donors as wallets with legs or do you see them as valued partners making your work possible? Lip service won’t get it done.