A reader’s question about Donor Recognition Societies

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Susan Rudd, Resource Development Assistant for the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington, Indiana, about donor recognition societies. So, this is what I’ve decided to do . . . and I will need your help with this.  In the space below, I will paste Susan’s email into the blog. I would like you to think about some of the questions she poses and then use the comment box to weigh-in with your best world-class coaching and advice. The more readers who participate, the merrier!

Before I share Susan’s email, let me just say that I am of the opinion that many social service non-profit agencies don’t do a very good job with donor recognition societies compared to other sectors of the non-profit community. I suppose I’m of this mindset because when I’ve seen social service agencies take a stab at creating donor recognition societies, they oftentimes seem to melt into “donor giving levels” (e.g. listed online and in the annual report) with very little else associated with it.

With that being said, here is a copy of Susan’s email:

Hey Erik,
I am really enjoying your blog, thanks for doing that, it’s a refreshing break for me to read it and recharge my resource development batteries. 
Question for you, and maybe some fodder for you on your blog.  We have had a few conversations with our annual campaign committee and Resource Development committee about developing donor recognition societies.  At this year’s “Eat Thank Love” donor stewardship luncheon, we recognized nearly everyone there (and possibly everyone) in some way for what they contributed to the Club. However, we feel like we need a more formalized plan.  Nevertheless, when we started talking about how to do this, we ran into walls of questions about how to create and acknowledge those people using a donor recognition society strategy.  So here are a couple of questions we have:
* Do we create societies for all donors or just annual campaign donors?
* Should we include in-kind donors? How do you value those contributions?
* We started to look at names of levels (champion, gold, silver, etc) and special recognitions for long-term donors, etc. and got stuck there too.  What types of names should we use? Where should we create breaks in the levels of giving for recognition purposes?
* Is there any protocol or best practice to follow when developing Donor Recognition Societies? 
Any advice is valued, of course.  Wisdom please…whenever, no rush.  Thanks Erik.

Susan Rudd
Resource Development Assistant
Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington

So there you have it. Thanks to Susan for sending me this email and understanding that she isn’t in this alone because we can all learn from each other!

The challenge is now out there for you. How does your agency deal with Donor Recognition Societies? What is your best world-class coaching and advice for her?

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

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