Many of you know about my disdain for honor rolls, or lists of donors. Here is my article that clearly states they are one of the most wasteful practices that our organizations can perform. Well my friend Roberta O'Hara at Rutgers and her team has taken the traditional honor roll and turned it on its head. And folks, its brilliant.
Check out the messaging that starts the webpage:
They even featured a professor who has the best name ever: Lynne!
Communications and donor relations partnered to demonstrate the impact and tell stories, which is much more effective than a list of donors that no one looks at. Instead, it takes those donors' gifts and brings them to life through quotes from the people that benefit from their generosity. As a donor, you can look at the report in terms of location, area of support and drill down into places you care about.
Roberta says, "It
was one of those ideas I had while driving the hour commute home
thinking about how to honor 130,000 donors. And
it hit me: what better way to say thank you than to have the recipients
say it themselves, so let’s list the recipients instead of the donors." Great idea! She goes on to say, "No
one has missed a standard honor roll, and we were able to highlight all
the locations of the University, too. And at the same time we could
highlight some key donors by picking students who were on specific
or faculty who held new professorships, or researchers working in new
buildings." Kudos to you Roberta for taking a risk and seeing it through. It takes true gumption and forward thinking to turn an ages old tradition on its head.
If you're in your shop, fighting this battle and need to know how to think differently, this is a great way. You may not have this scale and resources, but you can make it work in your organization. Choosing one story in each area and highlighting the impact that individual donors have had on them can be truly powerful and can certainly be scaled.
What are your thoughts? This really appeals to me on a fundamental level of storytelling. I can't wait to see more of this happening at our organizations.