Situational Analysis:

“Recently you were hired as the Fundraising Manager of Charitable organization XYZ . In the course of familiarizing yourself with the existing fundraising programs you noticed that there is no donor recognition plan.

Based on an organization you are familiar with develop a donor recognition program that:

  • highlights the need for and purpose of a Donor Recognitions program
  • outlines specific recognition programs for three of the organizations fundraising programs. Show clearly how the recognition matched the programs and will fulfill the importance of having such plans.

In a maximum of 1000 words, prepare a Donor Recognition Programme that the organization can use as part of its overall fundraising plan.”

to: Ben Gardiner, Chair and Members of the Board of XYZ Botanical Garden


 Report by Dawn Dinsdale-Hunt


 Ben, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I recently reviewed XYZ’s fundraising programmes and discovered that we have no donor recognition programme. This is a serious shortcoming in our donor relationship platform and one which must be rectified quickly.

To honour our donors, and to respect the earlier indigenous inhabitants of this area, I suggest we establish three Circles, in recognition of the symbolism of the life cycle.

The Visionary Circle will support our Bald Eagle programme

The Pioneer Circle will support the expansion of our Carolinian forest

The Partner Circle will support the Walk in the Clouds boardwalk

The Need and Purpose of Donor Recognition                                                      

 XYZ Botanical Garden must remain diligent in affirming our commitment to our donors in ways which please them, as well as promoting our fundraising programmes to others.

  • Recruiting new donors can cost up to ten times more than retaining existing ones.
  • 70% of organizations have different programs in place to thank donors depending on their level of contribution.
  • 81% of organizations have a program in place to thank and steward major donors, identified as donors of $5,000 or more.
  • Stewardship is a long-term process developed by credible staff members. Successful stewardship can require multiple interactions with major donors to build a relationship.

We currently have three significant fundraising programmes requiring major donor support:

  1. To conserve the breeding ground of the endangered Bald Eagle, returning now for the 4th year
  2. To protect and expand our existing Carolinian forest.
  3. To create a ‘Walk in the Clouds’ boardwalk to give visitors an eagles-eye view of our diverse habitats.

Each of these programmes attracts significant interest and donations but as yet there is no protocol to acknowledge these gifts.

 Yes, we must continue to attract donors, but we must also retain our existing donors and to do that we must:

  1. Build on our existing relationship with them.
  2. Continue to show donors our strengths and achievements.
  3. Confirm, via a case study/other, that their donation is being used wisely.
  4. Encourage renewal of support.
  5. Give the donor reasons to consider a larger gift in the future.

I suggest a Giving Tree in the lobby of our main building. This indoor, faux tree will have the names of donors engraved on metallic ‘leaves’ coloured according to donor level, and allows for more ‘leaves’ to be added regularly. Donors could attend a monthly media-attended ‘raise the leaves’ ceremony or view via live streaming or podcast on our YouTube channel. It’s good to encourage our donors participation.


Prestigious Alberta distillery Eau Claire is interested in establishing a partnership with XYZ. Named The Bald Eagle, three casks of Eau Claire’s single malt whisky will be stored for our exclusive use. When aged at five, ten and fifteen years, the whisky will be bottled and awarded in a media-attended ceremony to our top donors.

 Recognition Programme #1                                                                                     

The Visionary Circle – The Bald Eagle                                                                  

 Numerous small and several major donors have supported this very popular project.

I propose:

Recognition of all donors on a Giving Tree.

Follow-up hand-written thank you letters.

All names (with permission) entered into the monthly website, newsletter and annual report.

For donors above the $5,000 level, a onetime gift of one-of-a-kind silver cufflinks, tie clip, necklace with ‘feather’ pendant, earrings, lapel pin or brooch shaped like an eagle feather. Donated by Jules Jewellery.

An annual bottle of Bald Eagle Single Malt Whisky, the age of the whisky to increase in proportion to the size/continuity of yearly donation.

Once a year, all donor names are acknowledged in a live video streaming show, followed by a buffet and presentation on the Bald Eagle.

Recognition Programme #2

The Pioneer Circle – The Carolinian Forest

 Numerous small and several major donors have supported this fundraising programme.

I propose:

Recognition of all donors on a Giving Tree.

Follow-up hand-written thank you letters.

All names (with permission) entered into the monthly website, newsletter and annual report.

Seats, with donor name plaques, to be placed strategically throughout the forest for quiet enjoyment and contemplation.

When a tree falls or is felled, the wood is sent to be seasoned. It will then be carved by Ontario carver, Gordon Becker before being presented to a major donor at a media-attended event.

Once a year, all donor names are acknowledged in a live video streaming show, followed by a buffet and presentation on our very old Carolinian Forest.

Recognition Programme #3

The Partner Circle – The Boardwalk in the Clouds

 A family foundation is supporting this fundraising programme. These donors have asked that a bosons’ chair be incorporated into the construction, to allow a disabled family member and others to ‘walk in the clouds’. The construction team sees no difficulty with this.

The donors also ask that all publicity for this extremely generous gift be directed to the foundation. I have not confirmed this but trust it will not prove a problem.

I propose:

Follow-up hand-written thank you letter.

Regular invitations to, and consultations on, the construction.

Suggesting the donors reconsider their wish for privacy.


 Ben, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We must not take our donors for granted!  I believe the emotional and historical significance of our Circles will appeal to donors and prove a valuable tool in our sponsorship goals. Relationship building requires that all XYZ staff, members, board and volunteers take a part in the relationships and I look forward to assisting our Board in the creation of a donor relations philosophy/policy.



Dawn Dinsdale-Hunt