Providing Tangible Donation Recognition on a Budget

Philip Manzano • Oct 15, 2016

Donors may be more likely to give when they receive something tangible. The key is to provide that recognition without breaking the bank. The post Providing Tangible Donation Recognition on a Budget appeared first on Keela.

Guest Author: Jen Sguigna,

Juno Beach Foundation

More and more, we live in a material world. Between that and the rise of the “Me Generation”, you be hearing an unnerving question more often: “What do I get in return for my donation?”

This can be infuriating. A donation shouldn’t be a transaction! A donation should be the provision of funds or services in order to contribute to the advancement of a cause everyone believes in. Why should you have to provide something tangible as recognition?

Once you’ve cooled down, let’s try to put a different spin on this. Providing something to donors in return can help you. It extends the conversation and increases the depth of their engagement. It gives you an opportunity to get to know them better. And, depending on the method you choose,    it can encourage new donors to get involved by offering them the chance to interact and actively engage in a community and to be part of something.  

Think about when you check out at the grocery store. You’re often asked if you’d like to contribute to some sort of cause. And sometimes, you’re given the chance to write your name on a colorful token and stick it on a wall with other colorful tokens. Be honest with yourself: are you more or less likely to give a couple of dollars if you can stick something on a wall and see yourself as part of a group?  

That example in itself is proof that “tangible recognition” doesn’t need to be substantial or expensive. You should probably aim for the opposite of expensive, in fact. This doesn’t need to be a daunting task.  

First, set yourself a limit. It’s impractical to try to provide recognition for every dollar that gets dropped in your bucket at a fundraising event, but maybe you’re going to offer recognition for every donation over $50, or over $100 – it’s your choice and your prerogative.  

Start small. Send out thank you notes on branded postcards. You can get large quantities printed relatively cheaply through companies like, and your overhead is just about the postage cost. This postcard could end up on a fridge, a bulletin board, or worst-case scenario, in the garbage. While the latter is unfortunate, all variations of the former give you visibility and remind your donor of your cause whenever they see the card. Keep yourself front of mind!

If your organization has a physical location – such as a museum or a community center, you can offer so-called (by me) purchasable donations. Often donors have the opportunity to “purchase” commemorative somethings – seats, benches, bricks, etc. They can dedicate a small message to these, inscribing a monument to someone’s memory or perhaps just creating a physical legacy for themselves. While this is tangible recognition for a specific kind of donation, it’s still an incentive for donors to meet a specific milestone.  

If you are at a fundraising event, then giving out small trinkets – remember the rubber band bracelets? –    can help encourage people to drop money in a bucket.  

There are lots of options – the message here is that if your donors are demanding “rewards” or “tangible recognition”, that doesn’t mean they’re out of reach. Work within your means, continue to emphasize the strength of your cause, and always say thank you. It never fails to remind them of the tax receipt they’ll receive!

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