Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who’s Doing it Right?

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you as you begin to close out the summer. Remember when we used to say that summer was a slower time for us in fundraising? The close of the fiscal year allowed us to take a deep breath and focus on “summer projects”. I haven’t taken a deep breath in a long time, it could be the smog. Ha I digress. I wanted to share with you that I am always asked by folks, “Who is doing donor relations the best?”.  People want to know other organizations to benchmark with and they want to find out whose ideas to copy and steal.  For the past few years for me the answer has consistently and completely been Charity Water ( 

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to host a Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar with Paull Young who helps build their donor gratitude program. Folks, they consistently and truly get it right. Their donor relations is earnest, transparent, personal and spot on. Not only are they innovative but they’re sincere.  Want to experience it first hand? Give them a gift. Seriously.  It’s amazing. Below are just a few examples of their donor relations at work and why they are providing top notch donor engagement and gratitude, no matter the size of your gift.

This is the type of response page that appears when you make a gift online. WOW Sure does beat many of our awkward receipt pages.

This is the type of report they send you once your money goes into the field and gives people clean water. It demonstrates impact, one gift at a time. 

This is the kind of custom thank you they send to their corporate donors and people who sponsor a whole project!

This is their brilliant Valentine’s Day Video

This is the amazing project they did on their 5th birthday. Sending more than 250 custom videos to donors and people who gave up their birthdays to sponsor clean drinking projects. Phenomenal.  

An amazing story demonstrating the impact of one child's birthday wish. This one will make you cry. 

This is how they tell you what they did with your gift. The brilliance lies within the simplicity of the impact report. 

Has this inspired you to become the best of the best?  Who do you look to for brilliant donor relations ideas? Please tell me in the comments below who runs a donor relations program you admire.  I can't wait to see the results. Until then, enjoy the magic and the brilliance of Charity Water! 



  1. I LOVE charity:water and have also followed them for a few years. I heard Scott Harrison say once that they only one gift officer. Maybe that has changed but the fact that they staff other areas more than MGOs and still have success tells me they are doing something right. Locally, I have loved the work I have seen from TCU!! Go Frogs!!!

  2. I sincerely admire Charity Water and am jealous of their innovation and their seemingly nimble operation that allows them to put that innovation to action. My favorite stewardship is sincere, specific, and genuine, and they do those things admirably well. Thanks for sharing their examples.

  3. Washington Trails Assn, based in Seattle, also does amazing things for their donor relations and stewardship. My favorites are their invites to Fireside Circle members to join special trail work parties and hiking parties to deliver treats to other work parties. They show us the impact our our gifts and make us work! (Thus we appreciate all their efforts even more!!)

  4. Lisa, I too, love what TCU is doing as well.

    I haven't heard of Washington Trails Assn. but am headed to check them out now!!