Online Webinar Proves A Useful Forum for Defining Donor Recognition Standards

May 3rd, 2010

Last week we had the good fortune of presenting in the Association of Donor Relations Professionals webinar series.  Our topic was “Think Before You Thank: Donor Recognition Best Practices”. The session had over 200 attendees representing a wide variety of organizations throughout North America.  I was impressed by the level of involvement from the audience; their questions were thoughtful and wide-ranging.

The slides from the presentation, including examples of successful donor recognition programs, can be downloaded here or accessed by ADRP members from the ADRP website.

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This is just a sampling of the discussions held:

What is the appropriate relationship between annual giving societies and cumulative giving societies? Annual giving recognition events and listings must be structured to encourage repeat gifts.  Therefore, limit “lifetime” benefits to only the highest giving levels and focus on providing the “insider access” that matters most to major donors.

What location is most appropriate for a centralized recognition display? One must balance the right audience (consider students, patients, families, and the general public, depending on the type of organization) with the amount of traffic and typical use of the facility.  Choose a location that is spacious enough and appropriate for donor gatherings and special events.  If not heavily trafficked, modify tours and other traffic patterns to include the donor recognition destination.

What is the recommended stewardship practice if plaques are removed due to demolition or renovation of a facility? Emotionally, all donors assume that recognition will be displayed in perpetuity, therefore it is important to provide recognition policy guidelines as a part of the gift agreement.  Typically, donors are informed that recognition will be displayed as long as the purpose of the building remains the same.  If the building is renovated or demolished, recognition will be removed.  Some organizations reassign plaques to a similar space, while others “retire” recognition to historical displays or registries that provide a permanent record of the donor’s contribution.  The advent of online media for recording and accessing this historical database of past namings is easing this process.

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