Donor Recognition Boosts Long-Term Engagement
I recently met with two donors on two different occasions. One donor provided a gift in kind in the form of free magazine advertising to our nonprofit at a time that was critical to holiday fundraising success. The other donor provided a gift in the form of providing access to their customers through face-to-face advertising via buck slips that drove their consumers to donate through a QR code to our organization.
In each case, the follow-up visit with these donors was a success. I created a framed certificate with their logo and our logo on it. I had someone take a photo of the certificate presentation that was sent to each organizational social media outlet. After the certificate presentation, we spent time together not talking about 2020 but how we could enhance our partnership for 2021. Both donors loved their certificate and said it would be immediately affixed to their wall. This was the first time I had utilized this idea for a donor, and it was a home run.
The donor appreciation through recognition was important and inexpensive. It was an action and item by our organization to express appreciation to these important individuals who provided philanthropic support to our organization. 101 Fundraising emphasizes the importance of engaging supporters. Part of this engagement is communicating impact. We need to thank our donors and show them how important their role was in helping our organization meet its mission. I used the opportunity stated above to not only recognize donors but to thank them and review their contribution and impact made by them. In both cases shared above, these communication approaches led to greater awareness and financial support.
According to CallHub, five reasons a donor stays with an organization is they are able to see the visible impact of their gift, they receive timely thank-you notes, they feel their involvement is appreciated, personal connections are established and they trust your organization. For donor recognition to fully work, it must be timely, respectful and personalized. Organizations should also connect with their donors through surveys, personal notes, utilization of different ways of thanking donors over time and appreciation events. Do not ask for another donation in thank-you notes. Do not engage in just one channel to thank your donors. Take donor recognition seriously and be strategic.
Nonprofit Leadership Center supports the concept of having organizations continually ask their donors to give regardless of the current giving climate. Create a clear case for support and offer a compelling call to action centered on them. Focus on the impact that is being made through their gifts. Donors now want to give to help solve urgent problems.
Make them understand how they can meet these needs. Make relationships with donors a top priority and strive to cultivate them on an ongoing basis. Use emails, handwritten notes and personal calls to grow the donor communication channel. Be intentional with your communications. Make sure you provide prospects and donors with the information they need to make and increase their giving over time. Always remember to give recognition to them.
Viral Solution indicates that many nonprofits are missing the mark when it comes to donor recognition. Donors with passion and excitement are turned off due to a lack of consistent reinforcement of recognition. With engagement, donors continue to be tuned in to an organizational story. It shows that your organization truly cares, strengthens relationships and encourages involvement from others.
Ways you can thank donors creatively are:
- Feature donors on your website.
- Create a thank-you video.
- Send personalized emails.
- Mail handwritten notes.
- Provide donors with a gift.
- Highlight donors on social media.
- Host an event for donors.
All these ideas will improve the bond you are trying to create between organization and donor.
Heurista underscores recognizing donor generosity. Many nonprofits fail to complete this task. When done right, donor recognition can be a powerful tool in your fundraising arsenal. It shows appreciation to donors while showing to a broader community how much your donors mean to your organization. Each donor recognition experience is different and perceived differently by your donors. Make the donor experience fit the character of the organization to motivate giving at the donor’s highest potential.
The Association of Advancement Services Professionals in conjunction with the Association of Donor Relations Professionals has provided a list of best practices in donor recognition. The description of donor recognition practices is to celebrate the organization’s relationship to a particular donor and to philanthropy in general. The scope of donor recognition is very broad and involves several techniques and strategies. Donor recognition should seek to offer donors access, information and recognition (either public or private).
Donor recognition should communicate the relationship between philanthropic support and the organization’s ability to meet its mission; represent the voice of the organization; acknowledge the nature of giving from the donor; and accurately identify the donor or donors. The nonprofit organization should create a strategic goal around this concept plus develop tactical goals for implementation. Organizations should have written policies and procedures to help frame the execution of your approved tactics.
Recognition can be a costly endeavor, so you must budget accordingly. Always be mindful that donor recognition is about saying thank you while highlighting your organizational mission. It is about the needs, goals and resources of the organization and the effort to thank and further engage a donor.
Whatever method you employ, always remember that donor recognition is important to long-term engagement. If possible, provide this recognition in a face-to-face manner, so you can see the joy and reaction your recognition provides the donor. That engagement gives you the opportunity to thank the donor for their past gifts and recognize their current gift. It also gives you the opportunity to obtain feedback for deeper relationship strategies going forward. I truly love these meetings, and I believe most donors do, too! In the cycle of fundraising, never forget to recognize and thank your donors.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.