How to create donor recognition opportunities for your fundraising campaign

An important part of any fundraising campaign is how you plan on recognizing your donors at different giving levels. While donor recognition opportunities do not motivate all donors, the fact is that some are. And, you need to be prepared to offer this valuable tool to inspire the sights of your donors who are motivated by public forms of recognition. Different things motivate different donors. So, always begin by knowing your donor.

Below I share with you a step-by-step method to creating Donor Recognition Opportunities that will inspire your donors to set their sights higher. And, public recognition inspires all donors from big to small and for all kinds of fundraising campaigns, not just capital ones.

There are several important guidelines that one should consider first before actually coming up with the recognition opportunities.

First, it is important that you have several recognition opportunities available for your donors to select.

Second, the top-level gift should be larger than the largest gift projected during the fundraising campaign.

Third, the cumulative values of the donor recognition opportunities should add up to significantly greater than the overall fundraising goal.

And, lastly, the donor recognition opportunity should be two to three times the costs of construction, furnishings, or overall costs of the opportunity.

Once you have given these guidelines consideration, here is how you can establish your donor recognition opportunities step-by-step.

Step #1 – Invite key staff and volunteers to a Donor Recognition Planning Meeting and review your building plans or fundraising campaign outline.

Step #2 – Brainstorm all of the possible named gift opportunity “places” or “things” i.e. main lobby, flag pole, endowed department, scholarships, staff positions, etc. Think expansively and creatively remembering that nothing is off limits.

Step #3 – Write each possible brainstormed building place on a sticky note and put them on the wall in random order.

Step #4 – Look at your campaign gift range chart and determine how many gifts are needed at each level to reach your goal.

Step #5 – Determine the “Curb Appeal” gifts. These gifts are those that provide value for the opportunity and are not necessarily just based on gift size. For instance, a lobby will hold more “curb appeal” than say a large industrial kitchen located in the back of a facility hardly ever seen by the general public.

Step #6 – Match the top “Curb Appeal” gift with naming opportunity that is the largest on the list, etc.

Step #7 – Be sure to present this Donor Recognition Plan to the Board to ensure that they approve of your plans. Ensure that the Board votes to approve this plan. Don’t skip over this step! You need the Board’s support.

There are also other ways that you can recognize your donors. For instance, you can recognize mid-level to lower-level givers with a group plaque, listing in the print donor honor roll, or on the organization’s website. You may also choose to run brick and pavers or wall tile program. And, inevitably, you will recognize all of your donors at a post-campaign celebratory event.

If you would like to see a sample Donor Recognition Plan, email me!

One thing that you do need to ensure is that you are consistent with how you recognize your donors. Everyone needs to be treated equally regarding what his or her gift will afford in a named gift opportunity.

And, now the organization is ready to begin asking for gifts from donors using these different named gift opportunities as a way to motivate donors to step up their giving to the campaign.

And, if you need help developing your fundraising campaign donor recognition opportunities, let us help you! 

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