Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting the donor list right in an annual report

Recognizing donors in an annual report is a seasonal highlight. Their generosity helps drive your nonprofit organization. Yet getting the list right can be a real challenge. Most organizations use software that tracks donors, the amount of their gifts and special categories, such as giving societies. Make sure that it also has a section for how they want their name to appear in print and whether they want to be recognized for their gift or remain anonymous.
When running alphabetical lists, if you have more than one anonymous giver, you may want to put the number after the word – Anonymous (10 gifts) – rather than repeat the word 10 times.
When a donor is deceased, consider putting a small cross after the name and designating it at the bottom of the page. You don’t need to do this for estate gifts, since that’s implied in the gift category.
Amounts of giving: start from the highest and work toward the lowest. It’s a good idea to list gifts of $100 or more. For gifts of $99 or less, consider listing the names of donors on your website. Make a notation of this additional list in the annual report. 
Business giving is often listed along with donors. In-kind gifts should be in a separate section. 
When running your list for publication, have a couple people in your organization go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Look for typos, consistency in titles and credentials: list Dr. (M.D., D.O. and D.D.S.) but not Ph.D.s (professors and researchers), MBAs, CPAs or JDs, unless the donor requests it. Double and triple-check the spelling of your top donors. It’s far easier to proof a cheaper printed list than it is to make changes at layout stage.
Add a statement at the end of the list requesting any changes or corrections to donor names. Follow up promptly: update your database; send the donor a note or call them to let them know the change has been made on your records and thank them for their continued support. Consider adding a “Getting it right” section on your website to indicate corrections to donor names. (Newspapers do this on a regular basis.) You don’t have to include how the name was misspelled in the report, simply list how the name should have appeared. Take care of your donors - they make great things happen.