Seven ways organizations excel at recognizing legacy donors

November 11, 2020. It’s Remembrance Day in Canada and in many other countries. It’s a day of reflection

November 11, 2020. It’s Remembrance Day in Canada and in many other countries. It’s a day of reflection and giving thanks to those who fought to leave the ultimate legacy – peace.

Depending on where one lives, the observance of the day may differ but one thing always remains the same, we show gratitude.

This led me to reflect on how non-profit organizations show gratitude towards living and passed legacy donors. The importance of thanking and recognizing legacy pledgers and donors shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, researchers like Adrian Sargeant have shown how recognizing regular donors leads to increased retention rates and donations.

In the case of legacy fundraising, research by Dr. Russell James demonstrates that regular giving increases after a legacy pledge is confirmed. So imagine if organizations shower donors with love and gratitude, those donors will be more inclined to share their experience with friends thereby generating new legacy leads for organizations. Ultimately, organizations that understand this will inevitably be more successful.

What distinguishes organizations that excel at recognizing donors and those that can stand to improve? Here’s a quick look:

Those That Excel

Those That Don’t Excel

  • Align their recognition program with the organization’s values
  • Thank pledgers immediately and in different and meaningful ways
  • Publicly recognize legacy donors who have passed
  • Continually engage with pledgers by sharing impact of legacy gifts
  • Understand recognition is not a ‘set it and forget it’ task
  • Review and update their legacy recognition plan
  • Test and come up with new and creative ways to recognize donors
  • Have difficulty aligning values to their recognition program
  • Fail to thank pledgers in a timely manner, or at all
  • Don’t recognize legacy donors that have passed
  • Stop or sporadically engage with pledgers
  • Go radio silent
  • Have a recognition program developed by 5 legacy managers ago
  • Don’t value the importance of testing new recognition approaches

So, on this day, of all days, reflect on how you authentically honour and recognize your legacy pledgers and donors. Ask yourself:

  • Are we bringing value to donors?
  • Are there new and creative ways we use to recognize donors?
  • If my mum was the donor, would she feel appreciated?
  • Is what we’re doing giving me “all the feels”?

If the answers are not what they should be, take the time to review your recognition plan and continue improving. At the end of the day, that’s all we can do.

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