|Example of reply envelope text. This is the First Witness reply envelope, and the text is on the back under the flap. It has generated much of their memorial gift donations.|
Memorial giving feels good. A donor is able to give to an organization they or a loved one values, and at the same time express a positive connection to someone important to them. Because of the all-around 'feel good' of memorial giving, organizations who successfully promote this kind of donation reap the benefits not only of the gifts, but also the extra good feelings associated with the gifts.
Letting your donors know that they can give to your organization in honor of someone can be very simple and straightforward. Becky Lindberg of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center and a FundRaiser Select user says, "it is such an easy painless way to keep people connected to your program."
Use your website to let your donors know that they can give to your organization to honor someone. Organizations that deal in life and death issues related to people or animals will be especially likely to attract memorial gifts. Schools also frequently received donations when alumni hear about the loss of a classmate. Don't feel limited to these types of traditional 'tribute gift' occasions, though. Weddings, birthdays, retirement, or any joyful and/or important occasion is a good opportunity for people to give memorial gifts. Use your creativity to spark people's imagination on making an 'in honor of' donation to your organization.
If you have a 'donate now' page connected to your website, be sure to add an 'in honor' option on the page that donors can select.
Use your newsletter to let supporters know about the option to make a memorial gift. Equally important: publicize who received a memorial gift in your newsletter.
“When an alumnus passes away, we start getting donations from family and friends in memory of that person," says Jim Hodges of Menaul School. "For awhile there can be a flurry of memorial donations.” More come in, he adds, when other alumni read about it in the newsletter.
A line or two is all it takes to jog people's mind... and if you have a creative suggestion about when or why a person might want to make a memorial donation, go ahead and make it! Is there some reason your project would make an especially good wedding, retirement or birthday gift?
Any time you have send a reply envelope, you can use it to publicize your memorial giving program. This is what First Witness does. "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," says Becky Lindberg. [See image above for an exampel of First Witness' reply envelope.]
Most organizations find that they it doesn't take a lot of effort to bring in at least some memorial gifts. Next time you print up reply envelopes, give this a try.
Joan Young, a volunteer at Kairos Dwelling, and a FundRaiser Select user, says that the key to managing tributes is understanding that two different letters are usually sent. There is 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; or to the honoree themselves if they are living. FundRaiser helps to manage the details of sending two letters for a single donation.
These letters, coming at a sensitive time, create an impression of your organization. It may be the first time that the receiver has heard of your group. "Our Executive Director signs every letter. She writes a personal note on them," says Joan. It is obvious from this letter that your organization offers memorial gift options. It may also inspire recipients to want to learn more about your organization, even connect more closely. Without being overly promotional, you can make sure that the recipient knows about the good work you do.
In addition to these simple ways of getting the word out, word of mouth is also powerful and likely to happen just by having a memorial gift option publicized in other ways. When a person receives a gift that honors them, they may then pass on the word. "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 Becky Lindberg. Because of the 'feel good' of memorial giving, other donors who enjoy making gifts in honor or memory of loved ones will often let others know that this option exists.
When asked what advice she had to someone who was wanting to start a new tributes program, Becky 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."
Interested in learning more about how FundRaiser can help you manage memorial gifts?