Programmatic Donor Recognition in a Picture

August 25th, 2014

DR Hierarchy1DRhierAs a donor recognition consultant, I am asked often what I mean when I refer to a programmatic approach to donor recognition. This one picture says it all.

Efficiency and Accuracy. Continue reading »

Improve Your NonProfit’s Website….Now!

August 13th, 2014

web confusedWas reminded this week of how often not-for-profit websites miss the opportunity to inform, invite, excite and even IGNITE giving on-line. Continue reading »

A Troubling Trend for Fundraising

August 5th, 2014

Fundraisers might well take note that although the annual total for giving in the US is rising, the number of donors is falling.  Continued giving and donor retention have long been seen as keys to long term fundraising success. Yet the acquisition of new donors may be most important to assuring a viable future for a non profit.

Read more in depth about The Long Term Trend that is Going Unnoticed.

As a donor recognition program consultant, my identification of actions and policies that influence donor retention and continued giving are vital to my work as counsel to fundraisers. This trend of major donor attrition  is one I have “felt” but could not prove myself. I appreciated having this highlighted for me.

Dennis W. Linderbaum of UnityPoint Health Foundation, upon reading about this trend said he has seen real evidence of this with both their employee campaigns and  overall fundraising efforts. His reality supports that they are raising more money from fewer people. He says that “the old 80-20 rule has been replaced by a 95-5 or perhaps even a 97-3 rule — 97% of the funds raised come from 3%” of their donors.

Interestingly, he acknowledged that “this could be a sign of the economic situation where the middle class has seen its resources diminish ever since 1980 or so”. But he suggests another, troubling reality that may be influencing the decline. This may well be the result of what he called an “incredible increase in competition from an ever-growing non-profit sector”.

Fundraisers must be vigilant within their own internal analyses to understand their own trend(s) and to identify and address to the causes for it.

Written by Robin E. Williams

Donor Recognition + Meaningful Experience = An Inspired Viewer

July 16th, 2014

Donor Recognition efforts dedicated publicly to inform, excite and invite participation by every viewer is not easy to do. Saying “thank you” without seeming obligatory or impersonal, while being aimed at stirring the emotion and intent of a viewer to action is the today’s new paradigm.

We know that donor recognition plaques and program displays can no longer be about the simple display of donor lists by gift level, or about portraiture or even by thoughtfully chosen take-home gifts.

And even though  fundraising personnel now expresses their love of technology as being a life saver to lists-making and quick-change, it’s not about that, either.

It must now simply be about creating memorable viewer experiences. Creative story-telling, donor and program memorabilia, easy change/refreshing of content, and viewer interaction with the presentation all serve to motivate giving and to assist in donor retention.

The world of donor recognition is changing; fundraisers AND product manufacturers are struggling to leave behind yesterday’s methods of plaque-by-plaque, disconnected donor acknowledgments. Instead, the goal is to implement memorable graphic presentations that actually engage each viewer (prospective donor). To think before you thank.

New best practices are being invented daily creating organization-specific, new philanthropy experiences by which prospective donors are stirred to action: to give or just to learn more. Inspiration to action is key.

We’ve said for years that if donor recognition is an inanimate communicator with viewers/prospects,  stewardship and fundraising professionals owe it to themselves to take a moment and self-evaluate by asking themselves, ‘What are we saying via our plaques and displays?” “Are the messages being conveyed actually what we intend/need to be saying?” What would you answer to such questions?

Not Much Respect Communicated

Not Much Respect Communicated


What Not to Do! Donor or Gargoyle?

What Not to Do! Donor or Gargoyle?






Written by Robin E. Williams