Capital campaigns are major undertakings that will require investment and involvement from your nonprofit’s entire community. In particular, your organization’s major givers will play a pivotal role in the success of these large-scale projects.
Not only will major givers provide significant financial support to your campaign, but they can also offer their expertise and guidance during the planning process and act as ambassadors for your cause, inspiring others to give.
Clearly, your major givers will be instrumental in helping your organization achieve its capital campaign goals. So, to ensure that they feel appreciated and seen for all they do for your campaign, you need to have a strong strategy in place for honoring them.
Averill Solutions’ guide to capital campaigns stresses the importance of creating a strategy that will both honor givers here and now and help you maintain relationships with them: “Don’t leave these relationships as an afterthought!”
With this advice in mind, let’s dive into four strategies for honoring your capital campaign major givers.
Thank them for their time along the way.
While mid- and lower-level givers will likely only have a few touchpoints with your campaign—for example, when they give a gift and when they attend your kickoff event—your major givers will be involved throughout the process.
Although you can hold off on big shows of gratitude until you’ve completed your campaign, you should thank your givers for their time and support along the way. This will encourage them to stay involved with your campaign until you cross the finish line!
So, at what points in the process should you thank your major givers? Here are some suggestions:
- After they participate in your planning and feasibility study. During this assessment, you’ll work with a fundraising consultant to take a critical look at your nonprofit’s fundraising history, create a case for support, and interview your organization’s stakeholders, including your long-time major givers. Their feedback on your capital campaign plan and its viability will help you start your campaign off on the right foot, so you should recognize them for their honest insights.
- When they provide you with actionable advice. As you get your campaign off the ground, you’ll likely turn to your major givers for advice, whether you’re fine-tuning your fundraising asks or your campaign messaging. It will be especially helpful to consult major givers who have been a part of capital campaigns in the past or served on the boards of other organizations.
- After they’ve given a lead gift. Major gifts will make up the foundation of your campaign goal and help your organization get the momentum it needs to advance to the public phase.
- As they encourage others to support your campaign. Your major givers can help spread the word about your campaign and your organization’s mission, encouraging individuals to give and leveraging connections with corporations and businesses to garner more support for your project.
Again, you can wait to make big gestures of appreciation until your campaign is drawing to a close, but thanking your major givers in small ways at each of these milestones will show that you see them as partners in your mission.
For example, you could send a giver recognition eCard after a helpful conversation with a board member, or create a shoutout for a major giver on your social media profile or your newsletter. Whatever option you choose, make your thank-you personal and meaningful to remind the major giver that their participation is appreciated.
Give gifts or tokens of appreciation.
Toward the end of your capital campaign, you can shift your focus to larger forms of major giver recognition. For example, you might give gifts or a token of appreciation. This is an effective way to honor major givers because you’ll be giving them a tangible reminder of the difference they’ve made to your organization and its most top-of-mind project.
Here are some gifts or tokens you could consider giving:
- Commemorative items, like an engraved plaque, paperweight, or framed certificate
- Artwork or photography related to your mission, such as photos of your beneficiaries or a painted rendering of your new facility
- Branded and customized items, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, travel mugs, or tote bags
- Gift baskets filled with items related to your cause or items provided by local sponsors
Take your gift-giving efforts to the next level by bundling multiple gifts together and including a thank-you letter. According to Kwala, these letters should include the giver’s gift amount, gift type, and impact. You should also explain how that gift helped you reach your goal.
Here’s an example:
Thank you for your $5,000 gift to our campaign to expand our food pantry and distribution center. Because of your generosity, we were able to reach our stretch goal of $150,000, which means we will be able to make room for three walk-in freezers instead of two. Thank you for all you’re doing to help those in need in our community—please enjoy this gift basket made up of items from our local partners!
Host an appreciation event.
Another great way to thank your major givers for their support is to host an appreciation event. By taking a step back from fundraising and focusing on your supporters, you can set up an event where you connect with your major givers and get to know them even better while celebrating the progress you’ve made together throughout the campaign.
For your event, you could host a giver appreciation meal complete with a keynote speaker and an awards ceremony to recognize each giver. Or, you might provide a behind-the-scenes tour of your facility where your mission is put into action each day. Additionally, you could lean into the entertainment factor and give your supporters the chance to relax and enjoy an exclusive musical performance or comedy show.
Depending on your givers’ preferences, you can even host a convenient virtual appreciation event. As you plan your virtual event, think through the ways that you can keep your givers engaged throughout the experience. For example, you might create breakout rooms for part of your event where members of your leadership team can visit with your givers and express appreciation for their support.
Create a giver wall.
One popular capital campaign major giver recognition option for many nonprofits is to create a giver wall to be unveiled alongside your completed project.
- Display the names of your major givers (they may be sorted into different giving levels or simply spread across the wall)
- Can showcase the story of your capital campaign, perhaps with pictures of the progress of your building project or with a summary of the campaign
- Can be customized to your organization’s needs, whether you want a physical display in your new facility or a virtual wall on your website
Note that building a physical giver wall can be expensive, so you should account for its cost in your campaign goal. This way, you’ll plan it into your fundraising efforts from the beginning and ensure it will be ready in time for when you reach the end of your campaign.
As you plan your next capital campaign, remember to take extra care to plan how you’ll honor your campaign’s major givers. Not only the right recognition techniques encourage further campaign involvement and support from your major givers, but they will also set you up to retain their support for years to come!