A good question was brought to my attention by an existing Non-Profit Client:  

“Are there standard practices for recognizing companies and individuals who make auction donations?”

I know in the past we’ve included donors’ names on the signs displayed with silent auction items and on the PowerPoint slides about each live auction item. What are your thoughts on including them in the program, on a designated PowerPoint slide, or some other form of recognition?”

My response is based on all types of gift giving whether it be as an auction donation or a monetary gift. 

My first thought is focused on donor satisfaction and appreciation. I ask  myself, “what does the donor need or want for the donation?” (definition of stewardship). Then I consider, “is it in line with my gift acceptance policy and mission?” 

Secondly, I think, “how will the other donors react?” Does everyone get a slide or special recognition? Is one gift greater than the other or are all gifts meaningful and appreciated? Dropping a name or having the donor displayed on the live auction slide is acceptable as long as all live auction donations receive the same equal attention. I support keeping things equal within each donor level and I usually see a difference in in-kind donations vs. cash, in terms of recognition benefits. Cash is king! So, I always like to see that if auction item donors are given additional recognition, it doesn’t outweigh what is offered for cash donors. 

Ways to Show Appreciation for Items Donated for a Special Event

You might consider a “step and repeat” or a retractable banner for on-sight recognition, thanking all donors the same as you would sponsors. This is a low-cost investment with huge ROI.  Dress the area up with decorations and spotlights (up-lighting) and call it something unique (i.e. The Donor Devotion Display or The Hall of Donor Fame, etc.). 

A single page in the program to reflect the same is totally fine, but I highly recommend not singling out any one or two donors.  All donations are essential to the success of the event and should be treated with equal enthusiasm. 

Digitally, a donation appreciation slide is easy to reproduce from the tangible tools mentioned above. 

Finally,  I am a big fan of donor appreciation social events.  Even in the world of Covid-19 we can be creative in hosting some sort of in person or virtual thank you event. We all adore donor appreciation events! Even done virtually, when there is an interesting speaker or entertainment involved, and some time for Q&A, it’s usually a big hit. When done in person it can have even more social appeal, but virtual still has its benefits right now! Most importantly, make sure you have a policy in place for how your organization addresses benefits in general and then that can guide you when making these calls.

We’re happy to help produce whatever you determine is the right fit for your organization!