3 ways to celebrate your donors’ milestones


I’m celebrating my 2nd COVID birthday this week!

We’re still in lockdown here in Toronto, so there won’t be any gatherings, or parties, or hugs from family and friends (but there will still be cake! 🎂)

This has gotten me thinking about our donors, and how we acknowledge the milestones in their lives. In times of crisis - like a year long pandemic! - it can be hard to remember to celebrate the good.

But there is still so much to celebrate, especially when it comes to our donors.

Whether you’re recognizing donors for their long-time giving, or marking a cultural celebration that’s important to them, you can stand out from the crowd by thoughtfully celebrating your donors’ milestones.

Birthday wishes

Who doesn’t like receiving birthday wishes in the mail?

It always surprises me how underutilized birthday wishes are when we’re thinking about ways to appreciate our donors.

There are so many ways to respectfully gather information about birthdays, anniversaries, retirement dates, and other important milestones: donor surveys, public posts and profiles on social media, and my favourite - listening carefully!

When a donor mentions an upcoming celebration in conversation, make note of it, and where appropriate, record it in your database.

Your process doesn’t have to be complicated – for example, you could simply pull a report of birthdays that fall in April (hint hint) at the beginning of the month, and set aside an hour or two to write a batch of cards.

With so many of us stuck at home these days, a good old fashioned letter is the perfect way to brighten up a donors day (not to mention strengthen your relationship with them!)

Giving anniversaries

Five or ten years of giving is so rare and precious these days, it’s worth celebrating!

I know historical data accuracy is a common concern when it comes to acknowledging donor anniversaries – but please, don’t let that stop you from celebrating!

Trying to get it perfect may be holding you back – and truly, most donors would prefer a warm and personal acknowledgment of their generous longstanding commitment to giving that’s off by a couple of years, as opposed to hearing nothing about it at all.

This is a great opportunity for an impromptu thank you call!

Cultural Celebrations

Cultural celebrations and observances are a wonderful - but often missed - opportunity to celebrate with your donors. Just in the past few weeks, you’ve had donors marking Nowruz, Passover, Easter, Holi and Ramadan.

Again, this is where thoughtful listening is crucial. When you are building a great relationship with your donors, these celebrations with friends and family will often just come up naturally in your conversations.

As with birthdays, aim to start small, and create yourself a simple process for recording these notes and dates, and triggering a card, note, phone call or e-mail.

I want to know - have you had success in celebrating milestones with your donors? Do you acknowledge any other milestones I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear from you!

*Post updated April 14, 2021


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