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Celebrating Donor Milestones- Reasons to Ring the Bell!

How do you and your team celebrate donors? Recently at a conference, a team told me about a bell they have in their office that they ring every time a donor makes a "significant" contribution. I've seen and participated in this before in some of my work locations and have seen these bells in many client offices. On the spot, I challenged their thinking around this and ever since I've been challenging my thinking.

Some things to ask: Do you ring the bell when a donor hits their 10th consecutive gift? Do you ring the bell when a donor doubles their gift regardless of amount? Do you ring the bell when a  donor makes their first gift? Do you ring the bell when a donor who is elusive finally takes a meeting? Do you ring the bell for the 1000th donor of the campaign or year?

As we change our cultures toward a more appreciative look at generosity and not just philanthropy, what we celebrate matters too. We've all had big check presentations, but do we honor milestones of donors or just MONEY? I'm not saying to ring that bell for a big gift, you should, but, are there other reasons to ring that bell? What does that say about our culture? What is the message this sends to those that support us, only SOME of you are bell ringing worthy? Hmmm...

This goes back to the simple theory of retention and valuing each and every donor. It also goes back to the premise that we should not be organization focused but instead donor focused. Think about other donor milestones you could celebrate that are particularly meaningful. We spend tons of time sending birthday cards and other communications, but when is the last time you sent a card to a donor that celebrates the anniversary of their first gift? Or celebrates the anniversary of the year their fund was established? Or another good one if they have a scholarship is the 100th student they educated. Let's put some thought into these milestones, not just milestones we value, but the ones the donors value! This can lead directly to a surprise and delight moment for a donor and bring them back to the nostalgia and the original reason for their giving, something that can be quite moving to a donor. It also brings fundraisers back to the origin of their giving and can aid in a meaningful connection to the donor.

Speaking of meaningful connections, June 9th is my parent's 55th wedding anniversary. They are a bedrock of love and partnership. They inspire me each and every day. The raised me to be the woman I am today and their marriage is just one of the shining examples of dedication I have in my life because of them. If you're so inclined, comment below and wish them the best as then embark on their 55th year of celebration. Milestones are meaningful- which ones to you celebrate?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers, Lynne


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