Nonprofits are always vying for the attention of donors, particularly major donors, which is predominantly why donor recognition is a particularly saturated area. Standing out is a sure way to get noticed. Our favorite ways to recognize a donor and create a differentiated donor recognition program include one of two components – they’re either personalized or offer something unique. Here are a few of our top suggestions:
- The call. No, this isn’t fresh but it’s one of the primary touches that seem to be constantly ignored by nonprofits. Even if your call is screened, a warm thank you voicemail is just as valuable.
- Handwritten thank you note. We’re sure you’ve heard this before, but why don’t you do it? Make it easy for yourself – keep custom stationary in your call, in your portfolio, and on your desk so that right after a call or a visit, you can jot a quick note down and get it on its way.
- Pet treats. If you have a pet, you probably consider him or her like family. So a nonprofit that sends a thank you note with some treats for fido (if a fido exists) stands out! It demonstrates both listening skills and that you see the donor as more than just a dollar sign.
- Holiday themed gifts, like Valentine’s day cookies, are a great way to show you care regardless of when your donor last wrote a check. Additionally, many of your older benefactors may be single and appreciate a small gesture on a holiday when they would otherwise be alone.
- Weekend contact. We’ll never forget the day a major benefactor to some of the largest nonprofits in the city told us how her schedule is packed on weekdays with fundraisers trying to get an audience and then how quiet and lonely she is on weekends because they all go home to their families. Emails, calls, and visits on the weekend break through and are remembered particularly for older donors. FYI – professionals tend to not respond the same way. They are very protective of their weekend and family time.
- Something lasting. Edible gifts are great most of the time but every now and then it’s great to give something that they’re not going to toss tomorrow. Something that has use like a jump drive, emergency phone charger, or business card holder can often get incorporated into their daily routine. Include your logo tactfully, or better yet, highlight your organization’s mission with a moving image, and your donors are likely to proudly sport that phone case with the rescued puppy on it.
- Notes from service recipients. Almost no matter your cause, there’s a human on the end of it whose life is bettered because of your mission. Ask them to draw a picture or write a little thank you note. And take meaningful photos with your benefactors. Frame these and deliver to major donors. These are the first things to go on the desk before plaques, awards, or even family photos. Our favorite example: at a nonprofit hospital, volunteers asked young patients waiting to see their doctor to draw a picture of themselves or their care and write thank you under it. Parents gave approval for us to share the artwork (they were thrilled to have their kids occupied while in the waiting room!) and then it was framed and gifted to board members who treasured and referenced the gesture often.
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