Stewarding your donors in delicate times

My grandfather passed away a few months ago, and I am still moved and impressed by the letter my grandmother received from his alma mater as the family was leaving the house for the memorial service. My grandfather was a legacy alumnus to the school – I in fact carried the family mantel for my generation as it is also my alma mater. Our family is so intertwined with the university and its history that it is an unspoken family tradition that a child from each generation is expected to matriculate there.

My grandparents understood the responsibility of history, family and legacy, and were very generous to the school. With a tasteful array of flowers, the accompanying letter expressing the school’s loss and shared sympathy was well worded and touching. I don’t always have the advantage to experience my profession from the other side – I remember reading the letter first with great reverence as his granddaughter and then, stepping back and putting my consulting hat on, with true respect tipping my hat to their quick stewardship.

The notice in the local paper (and mind you, the university is 3 hours away from their residence) had only just appeared the day before, and yet they acted quickly and appropriately.

The heirs to his legacy, financial and scholarly, were witness that day to this elegant tribute. We won’t soon forget it. Are you able to act this quickly to honor one of your legacy donors?