Nonprofits who make it easy for donors to give gifts in memory or honor of someone, increase both donations and positive feelings towards their organization... especially when the follow-up on your part is handled well. Joan Young, a volunteer at Kairos Dwelling, who are FundSelect users, says that the key to managing tributes is understanding that two different letters are usually sent: the normal acknowledgment letter to the donor, and then an additional letter, called the notification letter, that goes to the family member of the memorialized person. Tracking both of these letters requires some attention.
The American Animal Hospital Association Foundation receives 800 or more memorial gifts a month."Veterinary practices will have a client who has a pet that passes away. The vet then makes a memorial donation to the program in memory of the animal," explains Tamara Fox. She says to deal with this volume of tributes, "being organized helps."
"Because of the purpose of the tribute, to memorialize, then timeliness is of the essence," says Fox. Clients who have lost a pet, "will appreciate the letter if it arrives within a short time of the death, but if it arrives later, when they have hopefully dealt with it, then it won't be as welcome."
Fox sends out acknowledgment letters weekly, sometimes twice weekly. "I do them everyday or at least every other day. Everything is dated as it comes in, so if the week is coming to an end, then I make sure that they are done."
The letter that the pet owners receive is important. "We don't say how much money was sent. We try to emphasize the sentiment. We always start off with something about the importance of pets in people's lives. We also let them know about the Helping Pets Fund, what it does, and that their vet cares enough to make a gift, which is so important. It reinforces the bond between vet and client. We get a lot of feedback on the letter from pet owners and veterinarians that they like it."
One challenge of tributes gifts is that the income, as well as the time involved to process them, is hard to predict. At Kairos Dwelling, when someone dies, "in some instances there are no responses and in others, 30 to 40 tributes," says Young. In the case of a newspaper obituary, "if they said to donate to Kairos Dwelling then we get a lot of donations." Data entry may take no time at all, or up to 4 hours.
"It's erratic," Lindberg of First Witness, agrees. "It is hard to set fund raising goals. So we don't set a sum."
FundRaiser has a special tributes module to help with the donor management aspects of gifts given in honor or memory of someone. It helps you publicize and follow-up with donors. We'll have more on using the module in next week's blog.
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?