FundRaiser Blog

The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.

Recognizing Donors Appropriately

Thanking donors is a private act. It is between the donor and the organization.  Recognizing donors is public, and because it is public you need to be absolutely sure you adhere to a donor’s wishes when you do it.

Obviously, you don’t publicly recognize a donor who has requested anonymity. But just how publicly does the donor want to be recognized? Does he wants his name ballyhooed from one end of town to the other, or would she prefer a discrete listing in the annual report?

Issue press releases when major gifts are received and be sure to cite both the importance of the gift and the generosity and leadership of the giver.

Another way to recognize a donor is to have naming opportunities. They can work well, but be careful that you don’t cheapen them. If every physical asset of an organization ends up with a name attached to it, the result is to lessen the value of truly significant naming opportunities.

Putting donors names on a wall in the lobby of a building is another way to recognize them. It seems obvious to me that a donor whose name is visible in the building is going to feel a greater sense of connection with that organization.

Recognize donors in your newsletter. Make absolutely sure that a donor is recognized in the annual report and that all gifts are accounted for. Remember to include the charitable portion of tickets to benefit events. Include a donor recognition component in your annual meeting.

Finally, establish a donor recognition program. Don’t let recognizing donors be an afterthought. If you are a one-person shop, give it a priority in your lists of tasks and develop a written program of what you will do. If you have a larger development operation, assign responsibility for donor recognition to someone. Donor recognition is a process. Manage it.

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