Written By: Danny
By Danny Maier
This month, the Donor By Design Team has love and appreciation on our minds… specifically how we “love up” our donors. Today’s topic: what to do when a donor doesn’t want “recognition.”
I have a friend whose wife does not like Valentine’s Day. Now, some of you might be thinking, “How fortunate he is to save money on cards, romantic dinners, and flowers!”
I also have clients who have donors that “hate” recognition. “Don’t send me anything,” they say. “I don’t need plaques and trinkets. Save your money.” So, we should leave them alone, right?
Whether happily married or happily stewarding your donors, there is a lesson here for all of us.
My friend’s wife is a hopeless romantic. She treasures truly meaningful, touching gifts. She just hates the commercialism and the “contrived” nature of a one-day, hyped-up, artificial excuse to say “I love you.” While my friend does not buy flowers or a card on February 14th, be assured he’s wonderful at demonstrating his love often and spontaneously. A happier couple, I do not know.
And how about the anonymous, quiet, reclusive, “anti-recognition” donor? It’s best to show that donor the type of thanks and stewardship that is best suited for them. They do not want their name on a board or plaque. They are sincere about their request to avoid attention and trinkets.
But they do need stewardship – thoughtful, meaningful, impactful stewardship. This could be private a one-on-one report about the impact of their gifts. Perhaps they would be gratified to hear stories of people whose lives are changed from their generosity.
I know of a university president who simply sent a photo of students studying in a library room supported (anonymously) by his donor. Along with the photo, a simple note was included that said, “Look at how students love this new study area. You are helping them be more serious students – thank you so much.” The donor’s response? More support.
So when a donor tells you they wish to be anonymous and not recognized – take their words seriously. And then find the way to say “thank you” that will really make them feel appreciated.
(Good advice for “recognizing” your significant other too.)