This has been my first real winter after living in the Northwest for 27 years. They tell me spring is coming soon, although I’m a little wary, because it snowed again here in Northern Illinois yesterday. If and when the weather finally warms up, one of the things I look forward to the most is planting a vegetable garden with my dad.

GardeningAs many of you probably know, planting a garden can be very therapeutic and very rewarding, but there is a good deal of labor and time involved, if you want to get the most out of it. Before you plant anything, you need to research what will grow the best in your locality. You need to add compost and manure to enrich the soil when you till it. You must plant the seeds or sprouts in rows, water the soil to keep it moist, and pull the weeds that inevitably will pop up to ensure that your plants get the most nutrients as possible. From time to time, you may need to remove slugs and bugs that may damage your plants. With time and good weather, your garden will grow to fruition, and you will have a bountiful harvest that will provide you with healthy food to enjoy.

Successful donor stewardship, like a garden, takes time and effort to produce rewarding relationships for your nonprofit organization. You must learn as much about your supporters as you can through ethical research, and record the information they willingly share with you in your database to find out how viable future support can grow. You must plan how you will best communicate with them on a regular basis, whether by emails, telephone calls, and/or newsletters. You need to invite them to events or ask them to come in to share their thoughts about what you can do to engage them more effectively. You must personalize your tactics for each supporter for a donor-centered approach.

This sounds like time consuming work, and it is, but if you want the best results, it will be worth it. When the time is right for the donor, your hard work will pay off, and like your garden, your bounty will be great.

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