April 14, 2022

Best Practices in Donor Recognition

5 key components when planning your donor recognition

The renderings are in your hands and your fundraising team has done an amazing job securing donors for your new project. Now it is time to shift your focus toward your donor family and finalize a plan to express your appreciation to those that are making this new project possible. In this post, we will outline 5 key components when planning your donor recognition.  

5 Best Practices in Donor Recognition

1. Prompt Acknowledgment

You recently made a generous donation to your favorite non-profit, healthcare system, or university. A few weeks go by and you haven’t received acknowledgment of your gift. Not a handwritten letter or card, an appreciation gift, or even a mention on social media. Did you know that one of the 7 Reasons Donors Stop Giving, is “The charity did not acknowledge my support”? In addition to being an IRS requirement, it is critical to acknowledge the donor’s gift and its impact on your program in a timely manner. It is difficult to maintain donor loyalty and possibly convert one-time gifts into recurring donors without this step.

2. Find Your Style

Another early step in the process is to determine what style of recognition best represents your organization. Is it a digital display's modern look and feel, or a more traditional and elegant donor wall? Perhaps a history wall that pays homage to the trailblazers who forged the path for your organization? Or possibly exterior recognition, that places your display of gratitude front and center in the public eye?

collage of images showing examples of different types of donor recognition such as digital, traditional and exterior.

3. Creativity is Key

Yes, there will always be constraints on your recognition project – time, budget, and space to name a few – but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice creativity. Set yourself apart with shapes, colors, textures, imagery, words, and technology in your displays and signage that compels attention, benefits your organization's mission, and inspires others to give. Consider partnering with an experienced and well-recognized donor recognition company to help facilitate this process.

4. Proportional Recognition

Gifts come in many forms and at many different levels – Major Donors, Capital Campaigns, Planned Gifts, Corporate Sponsorships, In-kind donations, and Volunteer hours – are all worthy of recognition. Careful consideration should be given to how these gifts are segmented and recognition should be given proportionately. Remember, your display of recognition will strengthen your donor family and move others to follow their generous examples.

An example of a hierarchical named space plaque system.

5. End Goal

Whichever route you choose for your donor recognition, your end goal should be twofold. It is important to strike a balance between acknowledging the generosity of your patrons in a manner befitting their donation, while at the same time, staying true to the philanthropic voice and mission of your organization.

Wherever your organization is in the process of recognizing its donors, Presentation Design Group is here to help. For more than four decades we have applied our expertise and passion to the mission of philanthropy. PDG will keep your donors engaged and deeply connected, wherever they are. We give you smart, responsible recognition strategies for our changing world and the powerful tools you’ll need as you adapt and grow.

Schedule a meeting with PDG today.

Looking for donor recognition inspiration?

We hope this digital coffee table book will show some of the current best practices in the industry and, more importantly, provide inspiration for your future project.

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