Thursday, February 25, 2016

Donor Relations for Employee Donors

Sometimes, in times of stress we treat those closest to us poorly, and can even take them for granted. Donor relations and fundraising can not afford to overlook our donors who are also employees. Often times, they are our last thought, something to think about after all of our other donors have been well taken care of. But these folks know how the sausage is made. These folks can be your biggest allies in fundraising and PR. When they're distrustful and not supportive of our fundraising efforts, it becomes extremely difficult to raise more money. You see, employee giving isn't just about the money that those gifts can generate, it is about the vote of confidence and support that the faculty, staff and administrators have in us and the future direction of our organizations.

It also starts at home. I firmly believe that everyone that works in advancement should be donors to their own organization. If you don't give, how will you understand the donor experience? I can't tell you how many important clues have been picked up by making employee gifts and understanding where we might have missed opportunities. So here are the things to consider about donor relations for fellow employees of our organization.

  • How do we thank those that give regularly through payroll deduction? Are they a silent majority who is overlooked? What do you do special for them and also who is asking them for an increase on their gifts?
  • How do we demonstrate impact to our employees beyond what we see in the day to day operations, remember not all of our employees see the good side of what we do or even understand it? Impact is the great equalizer. 
  • No one works in nonprofit to make millions of dollars, so given the limited means of our colleagues at times, how to we enhance the power of their giving? Have you thought about matching their dollars with someone from leadership or a donor who is tied to them directly? What percentage of your employees give? If it is beneath 50 percent, it's time for a revamp of your programming.
  • Have you discussed planned giving with your employees? Talked about their legacy at your organization and showed examples of other legacy giving from employees? Show me someone who is like me who also gives back and I will model that behavior.
  • Who at your organization do they admire? Who would be a great person to connect them with in order to demonstrate the power of joining the movement, the collective responsibility we all share to help lift our organization?
  • Also please don't forget that donor relations is also part education. The more colleagues we imbue with a positive understanding of the power of generosity, the more they will spread that positivity to others. We don't need help with acquiring critics of fundraising, instead we need champions!
Some ideas of donor relations for this group could include a website for them, featuring stories of those who already give, placards to go on cubicles and offices recognizing them as donors, special name badge holders or lapel pins depending on your organizational culture, surprise treats or unexpected thank yous, time to meet those who their gift benefits and other items. Remember it's not what we spend on our colleagues, it's the thoughtful gestures that go a long way. What do you do for those closest to you? How many efforts a year are made to thank those colleagues who also give to your organization? I would love to hear about your powerful stories of gratitude and impact with this population. 




  1. I would love to hear what some are doing to thank those employees who have payroll deduction. We have never done anything special for this group of people before, and it's past time for us to thank them for their consistent and necessary support. We are having our student workers in advancement write "thank-you from a grateful student" notes, but I was wondering if an email thank-you/newsy update quarterly or twice a year would be welcome?

    1. This January we produced a colorful impact piece for monthly donors, including those on payroll deduction. So in addition to their year end statement of giving, they received the impact piece and a handwritten note from a student thanking them for their monthly gift. The statement was mailed alone, and the note and impact piece were mailed together.

  2. We sent an hand signed card from our Vice President to our Faculty and Staff thanking them for their support.

  3. We gave them the same recognition items as we give our other donors (e.g., mug, patch, etc)- and made sure to hand deliver them immediately with a smile and a "Thank you!"

  4. We send a thank you, inform them of gift impact at town hall meetings, recognize each of them in a colorful framed list (donor wall) in a high traffic area of the agency, send each a birthday card and holiday card. For incentives we try to get these underwritten. Associate donors tend not to like that their donations may be paying for gifts to be given back to them. One great incentive is a day off, donated by the agency. We use these incentives when we are rolling out the new year appeal.