donor stewardship

Research Friday: How Important is Gift Acknowledgement to Donors?

posted by
  Sharon Brooks,
 Development Associate

 United Cerebral Palsy
of Central Arizona

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit scholar or practitioner to highlight current nonprofit research reports or studies and discuss how they can inform and improve day-to-day practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

In 2011 I gave to over twenty different nonprofit organizations. From each I received various forms of acknowledgements, ranging from a standard receipt to phone calls to video messages. The type of thank you did not appear to depend on the size of my gift. For example, I gave $20.08 to my alma mater in honor of my graduation year, and have received a thank you email, letter, alumni car decal, and a second thank you letter personally written from a current student at the university. Conversely, I gave $250 to a Christian humanitarian organization and received a thank you letter with an electronic signature. Yet I plan to give again in 2012 to the Christian humanitarian organization and not to my alma mater, a decision which seems to run counter to commonly held assumptions about donor stewardship.