- Karen Eber Davis Consulting - https://www.kedconsult.com -

The Gift Recognition Chart: Meaningful Ways to Thank

Do you want to motivate new donors to give to your organization? How about encouraging those already committed to donate at a higher level? Would you like to create meaningful ways to thank your donors? Finally, do you want to establish equivalent recognitions to avoid lavishing unfair attention or slighting anyone? If yes, you will find a gift recognition chart helpful. Here are the steps to develop a chart for your organization.


Develop Possible Opportunities. Find examples of recognition opportunities offered by other non-profits. Many non-profits list their opportunities on their websites. Key gift recognition and sponsorship benefits into a search engine. Narrow the results by adding your sector to the terms, e.g., theatre, museum or housing.

  1. Expand and Refine Your Draft List. Once you review what others do, brainstorm what your organization might offer. After you develop an initial list, focus on your unique opportunities. One example is Habitat for Humanity’s opportunity to present a family the keys to their new home. This recognition is noteworthy for its unique only with Habitat proposition, its limited scope (only a few donors will receive this opportunity each year) and it emotional content.
  2. Confirm the List’s Benefits. Next to each recognition, note the benefits it provides to donors. For example, some recognitions offer a chance to enhance personal relationships, e.g., a table at your event for eight. Press releases and website listings offer broad communications. Others help donors to meet key people, e.g., you thank a real estate developer for a gift in front 1,000 new home buyers at a seminar. Knowing the benefits will help you to market your recognitions.
  3. Create Packages. Combine your recognitions into packages to appeal to different donor categories, such as corporate, individual or foundations. To save on guesswork about each groups preferences, seek advice from your current donors. Adjust each package based on similar packages locally and in your field. Include stretch packages. However, be realistic if your organization’s largest gift was $10,000, you are unlikely to receive $100,000 by announcing a recognition for it.
  4. Minimize Impact on You. After you have organized your ideas, consider their labor intensity. It’s logical for a million dollar gift to involve staff activity. On the other hand, one thousand dollar gifts need to require minimum time commitments during peak periods. Consider how you will deliver each recognition with minimum staff impact.
  5. Seek Ways to Achieve More. Recognitions also provide opportunities for your non-profit. Prioritize any that further your goals (i.e., offer them frequently.) For example, press releases recognize donors. For about the same effort, they also place your name and mission out in the community.
  6. Evaluate. Assess your draft. Answer these questions: a.) Do the recognitions match the time frame of the gift? That is, will your annual gift recognitions be completed before the next gift cycle? b.) Are the recognitions impartial across groups? Does a $100,000 gift yield similar benefits for a foundation, corporation or an individual? c.) Do the packages make logical sense? That is, are you offering benefits to corporate sponsors that will appeal to their needs?
  7. To Market To Market. Decide how you will market your opportunities. When will your board  approve the list? Where will you post it? Will you include it in a newsletter? How will you make existing donors aware of them to encourage an increase in their gifts?
  8. Continue To Tweak. Donor recognition and your gift chart are ongoing processes. Try new ideas.  Over time, add recognitions that you offer– but neglected to list. Evaluate the packages and the results. Are your recognitions encouraging the donors you seek? Are any packages too complex? Time consuming? Humdrum?

Here is an example sponsorship package for fanciful non-profit flight school that teaches children how to sprout wings and fly:

This Year’s Sponsorship Opportunities

You can choose from several levels of sponsorship. Contact Ollie Wright at 727-800-4000 for more information

Ace $100,000

Flyer- $75,000

Runway- $50,000

Jet – $37,500

Pilot – $15,000

Wing – $10,000

Seat – $5,000

* A Flight Day represents a VIP sponsorship day, where the sponsor receives VIP treatment at the school.

What does the IRS allow? While this is not a legal treatise, the IRS allows recognition in various forms, e.g., public thanks to naming building and programs. Generally, dinners and similar gifts, run into quid pro quid tests. For these, you must deduct the value of the items from the gifts total for tax purposes. Obtain specific advise from your accountant.


For more on how to thank your donors and supporters see this article, 20 Ways to Say Thanks [1].

For more help with obtaining donations at your non-profit organization, read:

20 Ways to Say Thanks [2]

The Gift Recognition Chart: Meaningful Ways to Say Thanks [3]

Site Visits: Karen’s Top Dozen Tips on Hosting Donors [4]

Waiting for Super Donor? What Your Board Needs to Know [5]