Listen to Your Donors: Advantages of Gift Designation

Date Published
Kathy Giles

Why do your donors choose to support you? What is it that sets your organization apart from others?

The answers to these questions can provide valuable insight to enhance understanding of your donor base, which can help you develop personalized communications and increase retention, revenue, and donor Lifetime Value.
So, how do you collect this information? You listen to your donors!

Your members and donors are speaking to you with every gift. How much they give, when they give, how often they give: all of this is valuable information and makes up the foundation of membership and annual giving programs. But you can learn more, if you give your donors the opportunity.

This is where Gift Designation (or restrictive giving) comes in. Allowing donors to designate their donation, gives them the opportunity to share their individual interests and what aspect of your organization is important to them – what they value. It helps you to understand why they support your organization.

It also provides direct feedback to the donors. As they designate their donation, they know how their gift will be used. There is an instant feel of accomplishment on the donors’ part because they are helping in a way that is clearly important to them. They have personally accomplished something good, while you are able to learn what motivates them to give!

It’s a win – win.

But this is also restrictive giving and you must be mindful for how you provide the giving options and to whom. Too many and it can be overwhelming to the donors (not to mention a headache for gift processing and your finance department). And annual donors need to support your organization with unrestricted gifts.

However, it does allow you to gain information to help develop communications and identify donors whom you can go to for any special funding needs, based on their direct interests, which is perfect for moving donors up the pipeline.

Gift Designation can be an extremely important technique when it comes to Mid-Level giving. This is where you can leverage all the needs of your organization to further develop the relationship with these donors who are ready to make a deeper investment into your organization. I cannot stress enough the feeling of personal accomplishment and direct impact the donors can experience when they are able to choose how their gift is to be used. It can help increase the amount of their donation because you are homing in on the “why” they give. It is now getting very personal.

For Mid-Level donors, the ability to identify their interests also provides the base upon which to move them up into even higher giving levels and into Majors. It gives you a direct line of communication to increase their financial support because you already know why they are supporting your organization.

Gift Designation is not just for Major Giving. It can be an important tool to better understand your donor base. It can help build communications to deepen the donor relationship. It gives you a way to listen to what your donors and members are telling you.
You can learn more about developing a Mid-Level program here.

About the Author:
Kathy Giles
Director of Client Management, Agency Services

Role at the Company

As an Account Director with Agency Services I work with clients to develop their direct response, annual giving, and membership programs. I am responsible for the strategy, budget, creative oversight, planning, and results reporting for each campaign as well as ensuring we are meeting all client expectations. I also work to build the client relationship to not only retain the client, but to also look for opportunities to increase activities with clients, through any of our three business areas. And new business is always on the radar!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

With the three divisions, we have more opportunities to support our clients. We can extend the services offered to provide more full-service-oriented solutions to current and prospective clients, allowing AFG to become more involved with a client’s program. This also allows for more growth and learning, on a personal note.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

To feed my love of stories and storytelling, I went to school for film production, with a concentration in documentary film. I have had the opportunity to work on a few documentaries including one for the United Nations on the history of interpretation where I was able to visit several embassies and spoke with the amazing people in the UN Interpretation Service.

Today, I get to tell the stories of the non-profit clients I work with.

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