Recognition: Every Viewer is Your Prospect

July 1st, 2010

Every viewer of donor recognition is a prospective donor. It is the single, most powerful marketing tool at a fundraiser’s disposal.

If you understand this, then your organization does not shuffle the thanking of a donor to the administrative “back of the bus” where thanking donors is considered only AFTER a gift is received.  You understand that a donor treasures knowing that the gift is appreciated, even before it is received, and you certainly understand the influence that a public acknowledgment of one gift will have on the acquisition of the next

If thanking is not an afterthought for you, then you also have written stewardship policies in place about how to thank per gift level, when to thank for the best impact, and how much to expend on thanking per gift amount. I’ll also make a wager that your organization has a singular focus upon maintaining those policies, those efficiencies, from day to day.

If you have written and enforced policies about thanking, then you also have established a recognizable identity for thanking. You have made sure that every little plaque, every expression of printed, on-line or digital recognition and even every special event sign supports and builds upon that identity.

If you have established a branding mechanism for philanthropy for your organization, then you have also set forth graphic standards and guidelines for recognizing your donors. You have clearly defined the details: typestyle, material options, content development strategies, messaging wording, and acceptable uses for logos and portraiture. You have done for your recognition program what facilities departments have done for wayfinding and sign programs for years. And you probably also have a method for documenting change, since many recognition situations offer new challenges and call for unique consideration. You understand that the guidelines you have in place now will automatically ensure continuity over time.

If you understand that the ongoing referral back to guidelines for each recognition effort, whether on line or within a building, is vital to the integrity of your program, then you’ve also established a viable, searchable inventory of naming opportunities, both physical spaces and programs. You also incorporate thanking into your solicitation packages for those naming opportunities. You probably also accompany your “asks” with personalized renderings of the space to be named along with other visual aids. You know how to develop such visuals economically, often in-house without outside consultant or vendor assistance, because you have defined and templated each element to be ready for personalization for each ask.

If you have your naming opportunities planned and programmed, if you allow your graphic standards to guide the level of implementation for three-dimensional or electronic recognition of your donors, and if you have stewardship policies and procedures for thanking in place, then you have also enhanced your administrative leadership position within your organization. Those to whom you report relate to the economy of efficiencies you have set in place. Those colleagues in Marketing and Facilities, upon whom you rely to get recognition implemented, certainly value the parameters you are able to dictate. They have found that their own work for you is more efficiently productive, too.

If you are doing all of this, (or if you know someone who is) you DO fully understand that every viewer of your donor recognition is a prospective donor and I congratulate you. I want all of us to know you, to learn from you!

We have established a “Best Practitioner of Donor Recognition” and it sounds like you need to be considered.  Contact me, please.

Written by Robin E. Williams

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