Tribute gifts are very time sensitive. Act quickly

Organisations with high standards of donor care strive to recognise donations as quickly as is possible. Some organisations have a 48-hour key performance indicator (KPI). This means the team must enter the donation in their constituent relationship management (CRM) solution and receipt the donation within 48 hours of receipt of the gift. Organisations who focus on such KPIs also tend to focus on ensuring tribute donations (gifts in honour of or gifts in memory of) are well handled. Tribute gifts are very time sensitive and organisations that handle them well tend to be remembered in future giving activities. Those that do not handle tribute gifts well also tend to be remembered – for the wrong reason, i.e. their poor performance.

In memory

My experiences

I recently made two tribute gifts in memory of two loved ones to two different non-profit organisations. I had two very different gift giving experiences. One donation was made on the anniversary of someone’s death and the other was made immediately following the death of a close friend.

North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center

The first experience was with North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Center. I made the donation online and notified the Center of the next of kin details. The following day, the next of kin were sent a hand-written notification of the donation. Likewise, I was sent a hand written thank you note. This was a top-notch supporter experience and it went as one would expect.

University of Wisconsin Foundation

The second experience was with my alma mater – the University of Wisconsin Foundation. It pains me to report this was not a model experience. Like the North Carolina Therapeutic Riding Centre, I made the donation online. I entered the information for the next of kin and other details. Weeks later, the next of kin had not been notified of the donation. This was embarrassing to me because I chose to make this donation rather than send flowers. The gap in time from the donation to the notification was too vast. It made it appear, in my opinion, that I had forgotten to appropriately recognise the death.

I contacted the University of Wisconsin Foundation to ask about the notification letter. I received an email the next day informing me that there had been issue with the team entering my donation. Issues? I did the leg work. I entered the donation on the online donation form, which feeds directly into Blackbaud CRM. It ultimately took nearly a month from the date of the donation for the next of kin to receive the notification letter.

When my parents passed away, my sister and I included charitable organisations in the obituaries. One of the organisations went above and beyond to express their condolences to us. They also notified us when each person made a gift in their memory. The other organisations did not deliver in this fashion.

You can control part of the equation

With all donations, for purpose/non-profit organisations cannot control the length of time it takes for postal systems to deliver the donations. Organsiations can control the length of time it takes to process donations and to return a receipt, acknowledgment letter, and, in this case, a notification letter. Delays in your internal processes can really put a stain and a strain on relationships with donors. For many donors, a tribute donation is the first experience the donor has with your organisation. The work your supporter services team performs can determine whether a donor gives a second gift, a recurring gift, a major gift, and a bequest.