Increase Fundraising Revenue with Donor Recognition Cards
By Marcie L. Wagner
A memorial gift is a common way of donating to a nonprofit. But think about taking memorial
gifts one step further by building a strategic and branded Donor Recognition Card Program that
proactively markets and encourages donors to think beyond giving gifts in memory.
Let’s outline what types of special occasions are best to promote and it will detail the
Recognition Card Program internal procedures
and protocols as professional fundraising
consultants we recommend to ensure a well
run program. Let’s begin.
The Best Special Occasions to Promote: We’ve
all heard the cliché, “What do I give someone
who already has everything”? There’s an
altruistic answer; begin to brand and promote
giving gifts in honor of Mother’s Day and
Father’s Day. Encourage donors who already
have what they need to ask guests to give
contributions to your organization in lieu of gifts for their new b b
baby & shower, a birthday, their
wedding (check out the https://www.idofoundation.org/ Also promote examples of gifts given
from Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other special occasion
Brand Your Program: Making a gift to charity in ones honor
provides a meaningful response; and may even create a spark
within that person to begin to do the same As a fundraising
professional, whenever given the opportunity to speak to a captive
audience about your nonprofit and how they can help; emphasize
the many ways to give to your organization through your Donor
Recognition Card Program. Brand it as a unique and touching way
they may remember or honor someone special. The donor will find
that giving to a particular organization in this fashion affects their
loved ones in a way they will remember and cherish.
Here’s a genuine example of how giving to a nonprofit through recognition cards encourage
one donor to pay it forward. A client of our consulting group asked friends and family members
to give donations to a nonprofit significant to them instead of giving gifts to them after the
birth of their first child. This donor got the idea after his company purchased Holiday Cards they
give to clients instead of their traditional box of chocolate covered cherries. Once introduced to
the new concept or trend of gifting donations to a nonprofit in lieu of personal gifts for a special
occasion, it will prompt some people to donate in a similar manner in the future building your
Recognition Card Program brand and ultimately revenue for your nonprofit.
Your Recognition Card Procedure: Talking about your nonprofit’s Recognition Card Program is
just the beginning. As with any specific and branded professional fundraising strategy or
program, you must be able to communicate with your donors efficiently and precisely. Your
Recognition Card Program is no different. Therefore, establish procedures and protocols to
ensure a well thought out system is in place to implement and mana your Recognition Card
If you do not follow through and create that Recognition Card Program system within your
organization; it may backfire. Here’s an example of what
to avoid. During the memorial gift acknowledgment
process, the name of the deceased was erroneously
entered as the donor; as a result the donor was entered
as the deceased. Consequently, the memorial gift thank
you letter was sent to the deceased’s’ family. In turn, the
card intended to notify the deceased’s’ family of the
memorial gift was sent to our donor. Shortly after, the
nonprofit received an unpleasant call from the donor.
The criticism was well deserved; after all, a thank you
letter was mailed to a dead person; a person very special
to the donor. It didn’t matter who made the mistake, the important next step was to learn from
the mistake and fix the procedure
well-run, fool-proof Recognition Card
This vignette offers an ideal segue into how to organize a well
Recognition Card Program Procedures
1. Recognition Card: You must have Recognition/Memorial Card to
send to the person the gift was made in honor/memory of (in
the matter of a death – a card to send to the family of the
deceased). This card should mention who gave the gift, the
occasion, whom the gift was given in honor/memory of, and the
name and mission of the organization the gift was given to. DO
NOT mention the amount of the gift.
2. Thank You Letter: Next, the donor, or person who made the gift
must receive a thank you letter letting them know the gift was
received by your organization, and a card was sent to the person
they have honored or the family of the deceased. You should
also include wording that reinforces that the amount of the gift
was not mentioned, and include the date that the card was sent.
In the event your organization is receiving numerous memorials for one person, you do not
want to send the family of the deceased numerous, identical thank you letters. Instead,
phone the family of the deceased, express sympathy for their loss, and personally thank
them for the memorial designations to your nonprofit. Then explain that you would be
mailing them a list of the donors who gave gifts in memory of their family member; the total
amount of donations would be listed at the bottom of the report. This is an effort that is
genuinely appreciated by the family, because it is personal and they too want to thank the
friends/family who gave a gift i memory of their loved one or gifts in honor of the birth of
their child and so on.
3. Timeliness: Ideally, the recognition card will be sent out the same day the gift was received.
The staff member in charge of opening mail and/or managing donations should have
recognition cards and stamps accessible to them so they
may simply hand write, or print out the card and mail to
the intended recipient that same day. The thank you letter
to the donor can mail upon your normal thank you letter
schedule; which should be at a maximum, weekly.
4. First-Class stamps: Always use first class stamps when
mailing the recognition card and thank you letters.
5. Procedure Training: Your staff must have a formal
training on the procedures used to receive, process, and
thank recognition card donations. Procedures should
include: 1) One person designated to open gifts; 2) One
person designated to handle recognition card gifts (can
pre-printed cards on
be the same person); 3) A supply of pre
hand-write on the
hand; 4) One person designated to hand
card who was honored/memorized by the gift and the
name of the donor; 5) One person designated to mail
the cards on the day the gift arrived; 6) One person
designated to enter recognition card gifts into the donor database; and 7) One person
designated to mail thank you letter the week the gift arrives. Of course, the entire
procedure can be managed by the same person or two person’s working on the same team.
Raise Money Without Spending It In running a Recognition Card
Program cost effectively, you do not need professionally printed
cards/brochures. You can simply use blank note cards and print your
organizations’ logo on the front. The inside of the card can also be
printed with appropriate text. This is what you will need:
• Blank Note Cards: Purchase or ask for donated cards from a
discount retailer or paper wholesaler.
• Laser Printer or Ink-jet Printer: Most printers have excellent print quality. It’s
recommended to use black and white printing for the best finished product.
• Agency Logo: Ensure you have your agency logo available in JPEG format. If you don’t have
your agency logo, you will need to contact the designer of the logo and ask them to email it
to you in JPEG format. If you don’t have access to the designer; scan your agency logo.
Scanner’s typically scan an image as a PDF. Take that PDF of your logo and then “save as” a
JPEG format. If your version of Acrobat Adobe will not allow you to ‘save as’; find a
volunteer or friend who has a purchased version of Acrobat 8 or higher so you may get your
logo in JPEG format.
It may seem much attention is being made to having your logo in JPEG format; yet, if you
are not already aware, you will find having the availability of your agency logo will save
printing costs in many areas.
Begin to discuss the building and branding of a Donor Recognition Card
Program within your nonprofit as a permanent and growing
fundraising strategy which will increase your revenue far beyond your
expectations. The program works, it’s easy to implement and most
importantly you will see increased revenue within one year.