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The Season of Giving: Unique Thoughtful Gifts for Donors

Several wrapped gifts in a line with a blue overlay and the blog title in white text reading: The Season of Giving: Unique Thoughtful Gifts for Donors

The season of giving is upon us! And as our organizations are frantically focused on inspiring our donors to make those calendar year end donations, it’s a welcome change when we get to flip the script and give back to them in thoughtful ways, both big and small. Whether you are planning holiday greetings for thousands of donors, or curated customized gifts for a smaller cohort of your closest and most engaged supporters, gift messaging and giving is all about gratitude, thoughtfulness, and creating a moment of surprise and delight. Below are a few of the fun and unique touches our team has seen (or even used ourselves!) recently.

For the holiday sweet tooth, Sugarwish, is our go to! You can send all kinds of fun treats through this site and they allow you to customize your gift boxes, gift messages, and more. You can personalize a box to include candy, popcorn, gourmet dips and jam, coffee and tea, cocktail mixers, spa items, candles, plants and flowers—they even have dog treats for your donor's fur babies! This fun company is based in Colorado and ships anywhere in the U.S., as well as several countries across the globe.

A pot of orange poinsettias

Another great idea is to use a local florist or even your horticulture department to create special wreaths for donor holiday gifts. The University of Florida Donor Relations team purchased specially developed orange poinsettias from their horticulture department and hand delivered them to their top donors. Add a custom branded notecard and you have a gift they can’t get anywhere else!

Alumni-owned small businesses are great ways to create win/win situations! Colorado University hired an alumni-owned local chocolate company to create a special truffle set and paired it with a branded tumbler and small bag of coffee from another alumni-owned local coffee roaster. The gift set was hand delivered to all their local donors (at the major gift level) and mailed those to donors out of the metro area. The CU donors were very touched by this special surprise!

Colorado University also surprised and delighted their donors when they hosted a reception for donors and alumni before a local Nutcracker performance. As they departed the event, they were given a hot cocoa bomb made by an alum, a to-go mug, and a mini nutcracker. Sometimes the biggest hits come in small packages!

Utilizing your organizational imagery is another great way to invoke nostalgia and warm holiday feelings. Pair that with creating a custom puzzle to help fill the holiday down time and you have a winning and thoughtful gift! Custom puzzles created by using a picture or pictures of a donor or a landmark image from your organization can be very touching gifts. Puzzles make great gifts as they are something people can enjoy alone or with family during the holidays. Several custom puzzle creation options exist, including most retail drugstore chains and sites like and

A custom puzzle made from a photo of the DRG team

Specialty treats from your community, or ones only available in your area or on your campus, are especially fitting for donors who don’t live locally or regionally. Consider custom cookies from a local bakery or bags of popcorn with a custom label from a local shop. Other products made locally, like candles, are also a great idea.

Do you have an special donor who could use some extra warmth this year? Consider a custom photo blanket to them warm and toasty – and keep your organization at the top of their mind! Photo blankets are available from a variety of vendors. Our example is from UF, where they utilized Shutterfly to create a custom blanket filled with photos of the donor and their family on campus over the years.

Donor thank you blanket made from photos of their family

In the spirit of cost-effectiveness, we suggest turning to technology—create a fun video of holiday well-wishes and use ThankView to send. Remember to keep it light and simple, and not overly produced. Think of your leadership relaxed in holiday attire, enjoying down time with their own families, with your organization’s beneficiaries, or even the mascot—an unexpected departure from business formality! Here are a few great examples:

Whether you choose sweet treats, customized gifts, or greetings for one and all—‘tis the season for us to shine! What other creative gifts and vendors have you used? Drop some of your favorite gifts, vendors, and special touch points below in the comments – we love to hear from our readers!

Looking for more dos and don'ts around donor gift giving? Join us next Tuesday, October 31 for I've Got Gadgets and Gizmos A-Plenty: The Dos and Don'ts of Gift Giving.


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