The term “stewardship” is used with great frequency, but do we really understand the concept? Stewardship means taking care of something we value so that we enable it to grow. It requires us to take responsibility and to make a contribution of our time, talent, and treasure.
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In order to practice good stewardship, there must be intentionality about our commitment and actions to be positive presences with the people and organizations we value. With an attitude of stewardship, we will no longer be casual about our involvement and support. As a leader within your nonprofit, you must take responsibility for creating an environment and attitude of good stewardship throughout your organization. Here are some steps to help you get there:
1. Financial Audit & Annual Report
An annual financial audit conducted by a nonrelated CPA firm and the publication of an annual report gives confidence to your staff, board, donors, and the general public that the organization is on sound financial footing and that contributions are being properly used. They also provide you with insights into your overall financial stewardship.
2. Stewardship Audit
A stewardship audit is a personal and organizational review that can help affirm you and your organizational strengths. It will also likely identify and remove barriers to fulfilling your mission.
As the CEO, evaluate your stewardship of your staff members by answering these questions:
- Are expectations fair and clear?
- Are the right people in the best positions that utilize their talents?
- Are staff members consulted before making decisions concerning their areas of responsibilities?
- Are you taking the lead in creating an environment that is positive and welcoming?
- Do you encourage a team approach to problem-solving and management?
- Do you give credit and reward quality staff ideas and work?
Next, share your self-assessment with your management team and get their feedback. Ask them to consider the messages that are being used to define your organization and how you are conveying them to your constituencies.
- Have you defined the key areas/programs that resonate with your prospects and supporters?
- Are these messages being expressed in terms of how your work meets their needs?
- Do you ask for feedback from those reporting to you, seriously consider their ideas, and give them credit for ideas put into practice?
- Do you have a clear and compelling statement of the case for support of your organization that includes your commitment to be good stewards of the resources you are given and provide services to your clients?
- Are you being efficient and effective in telling your story through the use of new technologies?
- Provide an opportunity for all staff members to talk about their approaches to their work and to the mission of your organization.
- Ask your Board chair to conduct a session for members to think about their commitment to the organization of which they share ownership.
The practice of good stewardship begins with an appreciation of its importance and continues as a living part of the organization’s culture.
From An Expert guest blog post by Brydon DeWitt of DeWitt & Associates providing full service development consulting including capital campaigns, strategic planning, annual, major, and planned giving as well as marketing and communication services.