There are creative ways to utilize major donor thank-you events. Let me share you a story:
Margie heard about a special reception held by the nonprofit she had supported for years. Those invited were individuals in leadership positions, had made major gifts, or had joined the legacy society. She wanted to be a part of this group of people, but Margie did not fall into these categories. However, Margie had been considering changing her estate plans to name the organization as a beneficiary. Months before the event, Margie humorously sent a photo to the executive director showing her meeting with her attorney. She was changing her estate plans!
The “thank you” event prompted Margie to support the organization in a more significant way than she had been supporting it. She had been involved with the organization for years. She felt strongly about the programs and had witnessed firsthand the transformation of the people served. Directing funds to programs Margie felt passionate about was pure joy for her.
A thank-you event can serve many purposes and offers many benefits.
Below are seven (7) benefits of major donor thank-you events. It’s an opportunity to:
1. Thank donors publicly
We cannot thank our major donors enough. We want then to feel valued and appreciated. Besides a one-on-one thank you, recognizing donors’ generosity in front of others is another way to show your appreciation. It’s a time to celebrate with a small, distinguished group of people very dedicated to the organization.
Keep it simple – offer a 5:30 p.m. weekday reception at a board member’s office space, for example.
2. Recognize donors among peers and other donors
One donor may spark more giving from the other. Donors are passionate about the organization, and they love sharing those stories of impact among themselves.
3. Allow donors to meet
Donors like to meet others supporting the same cause. It’s an exclusive opportunity for leadership, board members, and other VIPs to get to know each other better.
4. Influence potential donors
Consider inviting all levels of major giving and leadership. Personally invite potential major donors who have not risen to the level of giving that could. Those not committed yet to make a major gift will be influenced by the enthusiasm of others at the event.
5. Prompt people to give
An individual, like Margie, may need prompting! She has the capacity to give, is passionate toward the mission, and is philanthropic.
6. Hear from someone whose life is changed
Donors want to see first-hand their investment at work. There is no better way than to have a person who has benefited to tell their story. No report or newsletter can convey the message like hearing it directly from the person. If that’s not an option, ask a person involved in the project to tell the before and after story.
7. Share how gifts are being put to work
Most important, share what donors’ contributions are doing to make a difference. “Show and tell” about the impact. If the transformation is a location, hold the reception at the construction site or the newly renovated facility.
Focus on what’s important – making the donor feel valued and appreciated and sharing how their gifts are making an impact.
It’s important to say thank you to those who advance the mission of the organization. Offering an invitation-only event for those donors giving at a certain level, joining a legacy society, or serving in leadership positions is a great way to recognize and thank donors for their support.
Major donor thank-you events are a form of recognition. Make each one unique and special. Know your donors and know what kind of recognition is meaningful to them.
Donors give because they are passionate about the cause, want to make a difference, want to be part of a community, and are asked!
What are the purposes of your recognition events besides saying thank-you? Have you identified what you want to accomplish from the event beforehand?
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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