Tribute and honorary gifts can be a great way for nonprofit organizations and charities to raise funds while paying homage to the great memories of an individual. Such gifts can help an organization reach a significant amount of its goals because tribute gifts come from a strong belief in the organization’s mission on behalf of someone’s memory or honor. Let’s talk about some helpful ways to fundraise through tribute gifts.
Types of Tribute Gifts
What exactly is tribute giving? Tribute gifts are donations made in honor or in memory of someone who is not the donor. Tribute gifts can be broken down into two types of gifts.
- Gifts Made In Memory Of Someone – The first and most familiar type is a tribute gift that honors the memory of someone that has passed away. If someone dies of cancer, making an honorary donation to the American Cancer Society is a wonderful way to honor their legacy. Many people now request this type of donation to be made in lieu of flowers, for a more lasting legacy. These types of donations are also known as memorial tribute gifts.
- Gifts Made In Honor Of Someone – Another type of tribute gift is for special occasions or milestones and are often made in lieu of an actual gift. These gifts can be made for occasions such as an anniversary, a birthday, Father’s Day, or graduation. The idea here is that many of us have too much stuff already. Why not ask friends to donate to a favorite charity, instead of buying another Christmas sweater?
Clarifying Tribute Gift Options on a Donations Website
One essential step to building a tribute giving program is to communicate the purpose of tribute gifts and dedicate a web page specifically for tribute gifts. The page should clarify how tribute or honorary gift donations can be a great way to remember or honor someone who either has been affected by the nonprofit organization’s mission or strongly believes in the mission of the organization. The page should also include the following:
- Information on how the loved one will be remembered for their memorial tribute gift donation.
- Minimum or suggested donation amounts towards a tribute gift
- A menu of example celebratory occasions or holidays may be helpful, to encourage honorary gifts.
- Impactful images always encourage generosity.
- Instructions on who to contact to set-up the tribute gift and a link to set-up the tribute gift online
- The tribute gift information page should link to a secure credit card processor, to easily accept donations online.
A great way to help interested parties understand the impact of their donation is to set-up tribute gift packages or tiers. For example, the International Rescue Committee gives options, such as supporting a year of school for a refugee for just $8 or purchasing an emergency kit for a crisis for $60.
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Offering an Option for Non-Monetary Tribute Giving
Another point to clarify is whether your organization can accept tribute gifts that are not monetary. For example, many well-established nonprofit organizations allow for the donation of real estate, a trust, or an annuity. If the donation is an honorary donation on behalf of someone that has not passed away, allow the option to donate a tribute gift with a customized celebratory message to honor the individual.
Honoring Tribute Gifts
One of the most important details to communicate to prospective donors is how a tribute gift will honor their loved ones. Some examples of how large memorial tribute gifts are honored may be a plaque or signage on the organization’s premises. This may expand further to naming a classroom, wing of a building, an entire building, brick, bench, or other parts of the non-profit’s grounds or property on behalf of the person that the tribute gift is honoring. Smaller ways to recognize tribute gifts include mentioning the donations in a newsletter, social media posts, or on a page of memorial tribute gifts that were made in the past.
For a particular holiday tribute gift, UNICEF and other organizations offer holiday tribute cards that are sent with a customized message to the person receiving the card that lets them know a tribute gift was made in honor of someone important to them. Another great alternative is e-cards, which are impactful with high-resolution, high-quality photos of images from your nonprofit organization.
Establishing a Protocol for Tribute Gifts
When establishing tribute gifts, implement a protocol on how memorial tribute gifts are handled. Once the donation is received, ascertain the turnaround to delivering how the tribute gift will be honored. Also, have someone that is assigned to handling the arrangements and communication of tribute gifts. Another important aspect of the donation website is to have the means to notify the family that a tribute gift was made in honor of someone they loved. This includes collecting the email addresses, names, and a personalized message to notify the bereaved ones or loved ones of the tribute gift. If in this case, the loved ones are going to include the request for tribute gifts in an obituary, consider advising on a uniform message on the web page. This may include the verbiage of tribute giving and the address or website to send the donations, such as the way Hopewell Cancer Support does on their tribute gift page.
Tribute Crowdfunding Campaigns
Many people now use crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising websites to raise tribute funds. Using personal stories or testimonials from families on how the mission or the cause of the non-profit was an important issue for their passed loved ones can further emphasize the importance of tribute giving to the cause. This is an especially powerful way of communicating why others should consider a tribute gift. Examples can be a patient that was taken care of by a hospital before they passed away, or if someone loves rescue animals and strongly supports rescues and shelters by volunteering with them.
Creating Repeat Donors
While tribute donors are typically one-time donations, they don’t have to be. Sharing with donors how their tribute gift contributes towards the mission of the organization can be a strong point of converting them into a repeat donor. Educate those providing the donation with the programs and efforts that are supported because of their donation by sending them a follow-up email to thank them for tribute giving. Be sure to ask donors right on the donation form, if they want to increase their impact and make the donation monthly. Another helpful step may include a prompt that asks if they want to subscribe to the newsletters before leaving the website, or a link that leads to more information about how to get involved in other ways, such as volunteering or attending events.
With understanding the basics of how to set-up tribute gifts, these tips should be a great starting point on how to incorporate tribute gifts into your nonprofit organization’s overall fundraising strategy.