If you’re about to kick off a fundraising campaign, then you know that raising money is serious business. Not only do you have to raise the money, you have to deal with recognizing those who contributed by way of “donor recognition” — if the donor feels appreciated (or not) — so that he’ll stick with your organization for the next fundraising effort. Listed below are a few best practices for donor recognition:
Showing appreciation for a gift is always important. A good acknowledgement letter will mention:
- the most recent appeal the donor received
- the impact of this gift
- information about the organization itself
- contact information for a specific, helpful staff member
Quickly thanking donors once a gift is received is a great way for fundraising groups to guarantee continued support. Sending a ‘thank you’ letter in the mail two to five business days after a gift is received is a nice goal if your organization can manage it. If that is not possible, some organizations ask board members, or senior staff members, to call donors and thank them personally, which is another great idea for donor recognition! This is especially important for larger gifts or gifts from donors of long-standing.
Sending a tax receipt many not sound like part of donor recognition; however, the act of donor recognition isn’t only about saying “thank you” — it’s about respect and quid pro quo. Any organization that doesn’t send out tax receipts isn’t showing their supporters the appreciation that they deserve for making those donations.
Most organizations use their acknowledgement letters as their gift receipts. This works out fine most of the time. Here are a few exceptions:
- If your organization chooses to only send receipts quarterly or annually (not per gift), you will need to make sure that all gift information is entered into the database completely and accurately as it is received so data isn’t lost.
- Many online gifts come in from overseas or have poor address information, so set up your online giving system to automatically send receipts by email instead of U.S. mail.
- Check out IRS Publication 1771 for more tax receipt information.
E-newsletters are a very effective, and they’re an inexpensive method of handling donor recognition. Once your campaign is complete, your newsletter can be utilized to list all your great supporters by donation amount group. Remember to get permission ahead of time before using their names!
A post-campaign dinner or cocktail party is another great way to recognize your supporters and let them know their donations are appreciated. The printed program for the evening would include information on the organization, the campaign, and a list of the donors to the campaign. The keynote speaker would also update the group on the progress of the program now that the funding is in place.