Blog Archives

What does your Mural of Generosity look like?


muralI’ve had a recurring thought for the last two weeks because I keep running across beautiful donor recognition walls at non-profit organizations. Just yesterday I came across a donor recognition board in the lobby of the Knight Nonprofit Center on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, and it was titled the “Mural of Generosity“. I just love the sound of that. Don’t you?

So, my recurring thought is this:

In a perfect world, what would you organization’s mural of generosity look like?

Please understand that I am not looking for vendor recommendations on where to purchase a nice donor wall.

I would like you to envision the following:

  • Who is on your mural?
  • Where is that mural displayed?
  • For what are they being recognized? (e.g. lifetime giving, planned gifts, recurring loyalty, etc)
  • What does it look like?
  • How is it continuously celebrated? (e.g. how do you build your organization’s culture around the mural)

You know how this works. Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other AND we can certainly inspire each other from time to time.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

 

Make your donor recognition meaningful


recognition1I believe that sometimes the universe speaks to you, and over the last two days I’ve been beat over the head with reminders that your non-profit organization’s donor recognition must be meaningful. While there is a time and place for computer generated gift acknowledgement letters and donor gifts, you need to know your donor and appreciate them in a way that speaks to their inner philanthropic soul.

Yesterday, I met with a group of volunteers and worked on creating a written stewardship document. During that meeting, we discussed things like:

  • When does a donor recognition gift (e.g. lapel pins, coffee mugs, tote bags, hard hats & shovels from a groundbreaking, etc), get to be too much and send the wrong message?
  • How can appreciation of a contribution be personalized and meaningful?
  • How can donor recognition societies go beyond superficial recognition and become more mission-focused?

This conversation was full of rich little tidbits. We used some of Roger Craver’s donor retention findings to frame our discussion and guide what we wanted to include in our plan. While I used a white paper from Roger that I purchased from 501videos.com as part of their Donor Retention Project package (and I’m not sure if that is still available for purchase), I suspect you could find similar good stuff in Roger’s book titled “Retention Fundraising“.

recognition4To sum up the results of yesterday’s discussion, the volunteers decided that donor recognition and gifts should be personal, mission-focused and meaningful.

Of course, this can mean different things to different people.

One of the volunteers said that she once made a gift to a faith-based children’s charity and received an envelope stuffed full of hand-made thank you cards from the kids. SHE LOVED IT! However, another volunteer spoke about a donor recognition society just joined that included a lapel pin, scarf and donor appreciation event. SHE SAW NO VALUE IN IT!

While there are donors who want to receive hand-made cards from kids, there are likely others who wouldn’t appreciate it as much. The same logic applies to donors who love (or hate) hanging out with their peers at an appreciation event. All of this is tricky because few (if any) non-profit organizations have the ability to customize every donor’s acknowledgement-recognition-stewardship program. Additionally, offering too much choice to donors can lead to frustration, which is never a good emotion to associate with your non-profit brand.

So, what is the answer?

Create a reasonable program that includes mission-focused recognition and appreciation. As you implement your program, engage in two-way communication with your donors and make adjustments (either individually or collectively) as you receive feedback.

So, up to this point I’ve shared with you my experiences and conclusions from yesterday. Today, I walk into a client’s office, and the resource development person was banging away on the computer. She was importing pictures from a recent special event into a graphics software package and creating pictures for individual sponsors that included the following:

  • a montage of images from the event
  • the sponsor’s name printed on the aggregated photo
  • handwritten message signed by the organization’s executive director

I believe the picture is framed and given to the sponsor as a small token of the organization’s appreciation.

I was impressed with this effort because it was:

  • mission-focused
  • sincere
  • appreciative
  • thoughtful

More importantly it didn’t feel over-the-top.

So, there you have it . . . these experiences in the last 24-28 hours convinced me that I needed to blog today about donor recognition.

I am very interested in how your organization walks the fine line that I’ve described today. Have you created a donor-centered donor acknowledgement-recognition-stewardship program? Do you think you’ve struck the balance I’ve outlined above? If so, please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

Another lesson learned from a donor about relationship building


On Tuesday of this week, I shared with you a story that a donor had shared with me while walking me down his driveway to my car, and it had to do with a skunk and an incredible moral to the story for all of you workaholic non-profit professionals out there. Today, I am excited to share another short donor story with you about relationship building.

Enjoy!


caricature1Earlier this week, I found myself walking into a title company to interview a donor for a client. As I walked into the office building, I noticed the following things:

  • the employees looked busy
  • there was a sense of purpose in the air
  • there were lots of smiles and people seemed genuinely happy to be doing what they were doing
  • the office was ringed with framed pictures of people drawn in caricature

At first I found the caricature pictures to be out-of-place. I’ve never been in a professional office environment with cartoon pictures everywhere. (By the way, I do mean EVERYWHERE.) However, I quickly realized that these pictures created an atmosphere that permeated the workplace.

When the donor greeted me in his waiting room, I asked: “What’s up with all the caricature pictures? Is it a local hall of fame?

He explained that the pictures were of local real estate professionals who use the services of his title company to close their property deals. He said that he used to make bobble head dolls of his customers, but that practice got a little bit out of hand. So, they started doing caricature pictures instead.

caricature2I walked away from the conversation thinking this was a unique, fun and quirky business practice. I also came to understand that this business practice was a genius idea on so many different levels:

  • it was obviously a form of recognition
  • it was a practice that allowed the company to express gratitude to their clients for choosing their company
  • it created a fun office culture infecting employees with an attitude that couldn’t help but bring a smile to their faces
  • it served as a constant reminder to everyone that these are the people they work for and the reason they are in business

Throughout the entire interview, I had the theme song from the 1980s television sitcom Cheers — “Where Everyone Knows Your Name” — running through my head. LOL

As the donor walked me to the lobby and the front door, I expressed again my love of his framed caricatures. He graciously accepted the compliment and then summed up his business practice with these few words:

“It’s all about relationships.”


Indeed!

Business is all about relationships and so is your non-profit organization’s fundraising program.

As I walked through the parking lot back to my car, I couldn’t peel the smile off my face. I just love it when a donor touches your heart and teaches — or reminds you of — something.

Driving away to my next donor interview, I made a promise to myself. If I ever find myself back to the front line of a non-profit organization as an executive director or fundraising professional, I am going to incorporate this framed caricature idea in some way, shape or form. Here are just a few of the ideas I came up with for framed caricature picture:

  • distinguishing an employee of the month
  • spotlighting successful clients
  • recognizing board volunteers
  • appreciating donors who join a monthly giving program or donor recognition society
  • identifying great program volunteers

Has a donor ever inspired a new business practice at your agency? If so, what was it? Can you think of other creative ideas on how to incorporate caricature pictures into your workplace that we can add to the list above? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.  🙂

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

 

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