WP Remix


Over the past several years, it seems that honor rolls have taken a backseat to other forms of donor recognition. Perhaps it’s the expense of printing and postage; maybe it’s the increasing focus on issues of donor security and privacy. It might even be the simple fact that creating an accurate honor roll is a royal pain-in-the-you-know-what. And then there’s also that whole online honor roll dillema which we can talk about some other day.

Honor rolls still exist, but they’re no longer thought of as ‘must-have’ items in the fundraising world. I wonder if this is a good thing?

I’m among the many who spend less time and fewer resources on honor rolls than I did in the past. From ‘list every donor’ to ‘list most donors’ to ‘list only the leadership donors’ to ‘budget’s gone, let’s forget it all together’ – nonprofits have tightened their belts on this part of their donor recognition program.

Maybe donors don’t care. If we’re doing everything else right, the honor roll may not be an important part of our recognition program. But we shouldn’t forget that honor rolls serve two very different purposes:

  1. They provide recognition for those who give
  2. They provide encouragement for others TO give

Perhaps the second purpose is more important than the first.

I know I’m always preaching that You Are Not Your Donor but I must say that more than one honor roll has convinced me to renew my support of organizations that might otherwise fall to the wayside. One in particular is an arts group that distributes an honor roll in each and every issue of their pre-show program. As I sit in the auditorium (bored out of my mind, waiting for the curtain to go up) I always look at that honor roll. I compare my giving to others on the list. And ultimately I renew and even increase my gift so I’ll be at the same level or one above my peers.

In this particular case, the honor roll served its purpose. I hope those other folks are reading it and looking for my name – I’d hate for my investment to go unnoticed!

This is just food for thought as you begin to plan for next year’s recognition programming. The GettingGiving blog isn’t about telling you what to do. . . it’s supposed to spark the thought process. Maybe it’s time to take another look at the honor roll as an important part of the fundraising process. Then again, maybe not. What do you think?

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