How Do You Recognize Your Donors?
Valentine's Day is around the corner. It can be an effective holiday to show your appreciation to donors and volunteers.
But whatever you do — though spontaneity is fun — make sue it is a part of a well-thought-out plan.
Know your donors. Are there some, possibly because of some recent loss, who may be a little sensitive on this holiday? Does that mean that a gesture would be welcomed with open arms or that it might feature a wound? The more you know about your donor, the easier it is to answer that question.
Also be consistent. If you provide a photo opportunity for a donor of $10,000 or $100,000, do you provide this opportunity for all donors at this level — and reach out to them about it?
I'll never forget taking over at an organization that on the surface was a fundraising machine. When I dug down, it was in deep disarray — and even full of ethical and cultural challenges. Not only were campaign totals for annual and even capital giving full of funny money (even figuring a way to count a single $5 million capital gift twice), but the organization was lavishing a lot of money — a whole lot of money — on a shoot-from-the-hip donor relations program.
With this organization there was no plan or strategy for recognizing donors. No consistency. So for one donor it threw a party and even invited the governor to make a surprise appearance. This nonprofit included this in its internal and external communications. The challenge — there were several donors at that level who had never been thanked in that manner.
So be sure that you are as fundraising legend Jerry Panas shares: continually embracing your donors, bringing them closer and closer into the fold … but be sure that this is part of a donor relations and donor recognition plan that is appropriate for the sizes of the gifts and the culture of your organization. Be sure that in providing any benefits, you carefully follow and inform donors of tax consequences. And be sure that you are consistent in how you treat donors.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.