Does your nonprofit make it easy for donors to give donations as a special gift? Not only are these kinds of donations good fundraising, they also create positive feelings towards your organization. "More and more people are catching on– giving gifts in honor of holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries," says Becky Lindberg of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center. For the non profit organization, "it is such an easy painless way to keep people connected to your program," adds Lindberg.
With very simple techniques to get people thinking about making a memorial donation, you can simultaneously
- raise money
- strengthen the emotional tie between you and your donors
- increase the visibility of your program
"We give people the option to donate in memory of or honor of, and make this known on the website and in the newsletter. When we do our mailings with the newsletter or an appeal, we put in a reply envelope with a place on the back of the envelope, under the flap, to dedicate the donation. Every time we send out, we get more and more back. Most are from the envelope."
A memorial gift is any gift that is designated to be in honor of or in memory of a person or animal. In the past, these kinds of donations were were primarily inspired by the death of a loved one, either a person or animal. Now, the growing trend is to make a donation at any time when a gift would be given. Some online places facilitate wedding registries that list nonprofit organizations rather than traditional wedding gifts.
Getting the Word Out
Most organizations find that they don't need to make a huge effort to bring in at least some memorial gifts. Many programs do it very simply, by adding a place under the flap of the return envelope for people to designate the gift in memory or in honor of someone. Often names of people who have been memorialized are published in a newsletter. Word of mouth is also effective. When a person receives a gift that honors them, they may then pass on the word. Other donors who enjoy making gifts in honor or memory of loved ones will often let others know that this option exists.
Joan Young, of Kairos Dwelling, says that a large percentage of their income comes from tributes. Kairos Dwelling houses terminally ill people.
"We let people know about the memorial program through our newsletter, which goes out twice a year. The reply envelope that goes out with the newsletter also makes it possible to donate the gift in someone's name." Sometimes, in an obituary, the family will designate Kairos Dwelling as the place to give memorial donations.
Tender Loving Care
An aspect of tributes fundraising which is integral to its power, is the emotional aspect. "Giving a gift in memory of my dad: it makes me feel good, it makes my family feel good, and you are giving to a cause you believe in," says Lindberg. "It's all about making your donors feel connected to your program and that just keeps them coming back."
Young agrees. "Our Executive director signs every letter. She writes a personal note on them."
At First Witness, "all our thank you's are handwritten," says Lindberg. "We get a lot of positive feedback about that. Every gift we get, the board makes a followup call." They are able to do that because, even though First Witness is a small organization, " only three full time people here" they have a large and enthusiastic board.
Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained
When asked what advice she had to someone who was wanting to start a new tributes program, Lindberg said, "just start– just get it out there. What makes an impact is when people see it in our newsletter. It sparks people. Then they pull out the envelope and see that they can do it too."
Blog post is based in part on previously published FundRaiser case studies.
Want to learn more about how FundRaiser can help you manage your tribute and memorial gifts?