Donor Recognition: What Do Your Donors Want?

While perusing Linked In recently, I came across a conversation about various forms of donor recognition.  Some contributors talked about listing the names of their donors on their organization’s website and annual report.  Others mentioned plaques on the walls of their buildings, while others reported their gifts to media outlets.

Donors who support your organization deserve to be recognized for their generosity in some manner. Every donor should receive a thank you letter immediately after the organization receives the check or other form of a gift, but what else should a nonprofit do to recognize their donors?

Some organizations determine how they recognize their supporters by the size of the gift they receive.  At lower levels, they may give a commemorative mug, T-shirt, or book bag along with a mention  in one of their newsletters, or they will add them to a list on their website or annual report.  At larger levels, donors may receive a plaque to hang on their walls or a trophy to place on a shelf or their desk.   An organization may name a building or a wing of a building, a special fund, or something else that will bear the donor”s name for perpetuity for a gift at the highest level.  In some cases, these are things that donors want.

However, there are donors who shun the limelight and do not want the publicity associated with their giving.  Some donors, due to a personal attribute of humility, a religious belief, or a desire for privacy, ask to be anonymous.  Their wishes should be respected.

My advice is to ask each and every donor what they wish when they make their gift.  Give them options from which they can choose.  For those who want people to know of their generosity, put their names on your website, walls, and annual reports.  For those who would rather keep their giving private, list them as anonymous donors and respect their privacy.  Don’t assume what they might want because they might surprise you.  They important thing is that you keep them happy.  By giving them the choice, you empower them, and an empowered donor will be more likely to give again in the future.


About greatergoodfundraising

Richard Freedlund has been active in the nonprofit sector in a number of ways, both professionally and as a volunteer. He is the founder of Greater Good Fundraising, a business that helps schools and organizations raise money for their programs while accomplishing something positive for the community. After living in Oregon for 27 years, he has returned to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and hopes to make his mark on the nonprofit sector there. He is the father of a talented jazz musician and the son of philanthropic parents that continue to support multiple causes. To contact Richard for consulting, fundraising, or speaking opportunities, email or reach him on @ggfundraise
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2 Responses to Donor Recognition: What Do Your Donors Want?

  1. This is so true especially in our world of donors. We have found that one of our donors have organized outings for our children, and like to feel very much part of our team. They love being involved in a grass roots level, and others who prefer to just hand over some money. We have especially found that allowing our donors the choice of actually meeting some of our children and visit the hospital that the donor really feels engaged. However we also find there are others that prefer not to visit the ward. The most important principle for us is building the relationship with the donor and treating him as we would any other member of our team – personally .

  2. Here is another example of donor recognition at my Alma mater, Miami University. For those who give 20,000 or more, they will have their name engraved near the center piece of the new $46 Million student center.

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