Recommendations for Recognizing Scholarship Donors

March 28th, 2011

In conversation with an existing client, we discussed these emerging trends in recognition strategy for scholarship donors.   How do these ideas compare to current practice at your institution?

Recognition of endowment giving of all sorts is now often presented in formal public displays.  We are encouraging appropriate permanent recognition to correspond to the emphasis on named endowments.  Most frequently, there is a high entry level for naming an endowed scholarship, often exceeding the entry level for physical naming opportunity.  Permanent recognition for these naming opportunities must correlate to the scope of recognition offered for any facility-based naming opportunity of the same dollar amount.

Recognition efforts are designed to encourage repeat giving to support scholarships. For instance, non-endowment scholarships may be pledged for multiple years, with 3-5 years as the minimum.  In those situations, recognition is based on the total amount given, often bringing the donors to higher levels over time than the entry level for an endowed scholarship.  Scholarships are not formally named until the pledges are completed, although stewardship activities commence immediately, based on the pledge amount.

Recognition programs that celebrate mid-level donors do much to enhance and broaden their repeat giving. Institutions often have funds, endowed or otherwise, that allow for the pooling of smaller gifts.  Donors to those funds are most often recognized by campaign or project.   To promote continued giving, I suggest that these listings be annual, not permanent.  Donors remain on the list only by giving again.  Cumulative totals will contribute to lifetime giving recognition totals but will not translate into a naming opportunity.

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