Our secrets for good donor recognition. Because even if you don’t partner with us, we want you to get it right.

Yes, for real. That’s not a trick. It doesn’t matter what service provider you go with, we want you to win. The team at BetterGiving creates donor recognition for two reasons: because we’re awesome at it, and because we love helping nonprofits.

Getting the best out of your donor walls, digital apps, or recognition events is a win for everyone, us included, even if another firm is your partner. That’s because when people see recognition that’s done right (finally, possibly for the first time in their lives), they’ll start realizing its potential. And those people will look into donor recognition. And they’ll possibly find and partner with us. Simple.

When donor recognition is done poorly, the entire concept is written off as a waste. Your charity has thrown away cash AND a great opportunity. Everyone loses.

So get it right the first time. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.

Secret #1: if you can, skip the middleman.

This can be a hard question to ask your provider, and even harder to get a real answer about, but try. Hopefully your recognition firm is able to answer.

We have a 12,000 square foot design/build facility. Why does that matter? Because we aren’t outsourcing work on your project. It’s all done here.

If there’s no combined approach,sure, you might be working with a great designer. But are they paying $110/hour to have their design built and installed? That gets pricy. That cuts into quality. Maybe you found a great sign shop or builder — awesome! But make sure they have a designer on staff that can actually recreate your idea — not something ‘pretty close’. When large parts of these processes are ‘shopped out’, the value drops fast. Ask the hard questions. It’s not just your money, it’s your donors’.

Secret #2: it’s not a sign, stop treating it like one.

There is so much opportunity to tell a story with your recognition. That doesn’t have to be with words or images. It can be in the design of your wall, what colours and themes you choose, materials. Check out this Mustard Seed project as an example.

Sometimes the concern with storytelling is that it feels like a tradeoff. Space vs. story. If you tell a story, it maybe takes up more space, and you’ll have to spend more. No.

Make a video, integrate a screen. Have donors write notes about their love of your organization and tape them under names on the donor wall. Or on a separate board. Even something as simple as a few photo frames ($25, IKEA) can be used to interchange pictures and quotes from happy volunteers.

Your donor wall is. Not. An. Expense. It’s a huge opportunity to show the world how much impact giving to your organization can and does have. It’s a part of the impact conversation.

So when you asked your recognition firm about storytelling, what did they say? If they told you it doesn’t matter, or it’s too much work, they’re wrong.

If you want to skip storytelling, you can. Maybe that’s not important to you. But PLEASE work with a firm that can at least brainstorm with you about different ways to engage passers-by and staff.

Secret #3: don’t let anyone tell you digital is expensive or difficult

Is custom digital expensive? Sure. Most custom digital solutions require at least $40,000 free to create something amazing from the ground-up.

But is all digital expensive? No. Not at all. You have options — heck, even a PowerPoint is better than nothing. We made BG Dash to help nonprofits get digital for the lowest dollar possible. A good videographer can help you make videos for your website and donor displays. There are a lot of options, and while they aren’t going to break the bank, they’ll probably help you win more supporters. If you want to brainstorm digital ideas (even if they aren’t Dash), send me an email. I like helping – bryce@bettergiving.ca.

Is digital difficult? Again, that depends. If you aren’t PowerPoint savvy, that route may take some time. If you can’t edit video, you’ll have to find someone who can help. Dash is as easy as writing a blog post, but that’s because it was built for ease. The digital spectrum is broad in coast and in ease of use. The point is: don’t let anyone scare you out of working in digital with blanket statements. They’re just wrong.

If I had to recommend only one golden rule for donor recognition, it would be to embrace a creative ideas. If you don’t feel like a creative person, ask for help. Think about what would have an impact on potential donors. Ask to use their stories and photos. Share their stories. Trust us when we say it works.

Most of all, even if it isn’t us, find a donor recognition firm that will help you get the best value, not just make a thing that goes on your wall.

If you need any advice, let us know. We’re around to help nonprofits win, even if that doesn’t mean a project for us.

Thanks for reading! To see what we do, visit bettergiving.ca.

Bryce Lokken
VP Business Development
BetterGiving.ca / BGDash.com


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