In Loving Memory

As Memorial Day approaches and we honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, it makes me think of the importance of memorials and honorariums as a good fundraising practice.  Many nonprofits and institutions of higher education have a memorial and honorarium program allowing donors to give a gift in memory or in honor of someone.  I am noticing some new and innovative ways that organizations are honoring different kinds of people.  Last week a nonprofit asked for donations to honor the Founder of their organization.  What a great idea.  It’s important to keep the history of an organization alive and give people the opportunity to support the initial staff or volunteers.  Another organization created a memorial fund named after a special donor that passed away.  I’ve also seen an honorary donation used as a challenge gift to kick off a capital campaign offering an incentive to give a certain amount over a specific period of time.

Creating an opportunity for prospective or current donors to give a donation through a memorial gift or honorarium is easy to set up.  Add this opportunity to your pledge form, website donation button and marketing materials.  Include it in your eNewsletter and other communications.  Call it whatever you think is best for your organization.  I love Memory Tribute as a memorial donation is a tribute to someone special.  Print off cards to use to notify the person being honored or the family of the person being memorialized.  Set up a new code in your constituent database and acknowledge donations as they come in just as you would any other gift.

Some nonprofits give donors the option to create a memorial or honorarium donation page using a username and password.  Donors can then personalize their page with a message and photo and then share it with friends and family.  When friends and family visit the page, they can leave a message and make a donation.  As part of solicitation trainings, I explain that there are two types of donors: Pull at the Heart Strings donors and Bottom Line donors.  Pull at the Heart Strings donors react to a solicitation that hits their heart by telling a story, showing a picture or giving a testimonial.  Bottom Line donors relate better to a solicitation using statistics, financials and talking about the impact their gift will make.  Memorial and honorarium donations are definitely a reaction to Pull at the Heart Strings opportunities.  

The other day I saw a decal on the back window of a car that read “In Memory of” and the person’s name.  There are so many innovative ways to give tribute to someone.  A fund can be set up in memory or in honor of a friend, relative, founder, volunteer, board member, donor, professor, chancellor, teacher, child, mentor and even a pet.

Happy Memorial Day!

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