The Problem With Donor Recognition
The late Hank Rosso, founder of the Fund Raising School that now has international roots through Indiana University, stated that "one of the chief fundraising officer's roles is that of a teacher."
That said, I am constantly doing research on various topics related to our field of service. All of us work very hard to research, cultivate, solicit and steward donors. As part of the teaching and learning process, continual knowledge of how we recognize donors must come into play.
Donors are recognized in many forms from handwritten thank-you notes to names on buildings. As the recognition level increases in permanence, the stakes are higher for potential problems. I was surprised that I had to open five books on the subject of recognition before I found a specific section on this important topic.
I opened the Indianapolis paper this week and, to my surprise, saw a front-page article that gave me pause. The headline was "Purdue donor set to sue over 'God.'" A donor in good faith made a multiyear pledge in honor of his parents. The university asked the donor to create words for a plaque to be placed outside a dedicated conference room. The university ultimately rejected the plaque and gift due to the usage of the word "God" in a public facility. There is now possible litigation and a potential long-term relationship between a donor and university that has now turned sour. All of the good will that was created in this case has resulted in a public relations mess.
The point of my story is not to debate that specific issue. The point is there are problems seen and unseen with recognition of donors and the institutions that are recipients of funds. Problems with naming recognition come in many forms.
Here are a few examples of recognition problems that I have seen in my career:
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.