What Are the Different Types of Donor Recognition?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Organizations use various ways to show appreciation for donations. Some forms of donor recognition are physical such as a gift, and some are activities like a ceremony. Another type of donor recognition is a permanent installation of an object such as a bench. The Internet has given rise to virtual forms of donor recognition as well.

Donor recognition can be as simple and inexpensive as a letter of appreciation or acknowledgement card. A nonprofit organization with limited funds may not be able to do more, and the letter will let the donor know that his donation was received and appreciated. Social networking sites are another inexpensive way to recognize a donor’s generosity. They are usually free to join and an organization can set up a page that all of its members can view. If there is an ongoing fundraising campaign, the organization can keep a running total of donations received in addition to recognizing the people who make them.


Gifts are a popular form of donor recognition, and there are many to choose from. A plaque inscribed with the donor’s name is one of the most popular, and this is often given to donors during a ceremony or dinner. When a plaque is presented, photographs are often taken to be printed in a local newspaper or organization newsletter. Coffee mugs, magnets, T-shirts, and jackets imprinted with the organization’s logo are common donor recognition gifts. Some other popular gifts are engraved pen and pencil sets, ornaments or art glass inscribed with the donor’s name and organization’s logo, and lapel pins.

When a patron gives a sizable gift to a hospital or university, sometimes a building or wing is named in his or her honor. Some facilities have a donor wall with plaques or nameplates of various contributors. People who donate land may have a park or school named after them. Bricks or plaques inscribed with the donor’s name may be installed in walkways on a campus or park, or a tree may be planted beside a small sign engraved with the person’s name.

Some organizations have different levels of recognition according to the amount of money donated. For example, a theater may print patrons’ names in its program, listing the names of people who contributed $100 US Dollars (USD) as boosters, those who donated $250 USD as stars, those who donated $500 USD as silver stars, and those who donated $1,000 USD as gold stars. Organizations can also post lists of donors and amounts on their websites or print them in newsletters.


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