The Problem With Donor Recognition
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 has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.