Turning Donors In Club Members

Comedian Groucho Marx once opined that he’d never join a club that would agree to have him as a member. It’s a different story with donors.

In her book “Effective Donor Relations” Janet L. Hedrick offers advice about starting a recognition gift club. They can be set up by constituency or specific interest, type of gift or frequency of giving, or amount of gift.

    Regardless of which kind of club is established, however, there are six steps that are necessary to get started. They are:

  • Define criteria for membership. These can vary, and no set of criteria is right or wrong.
  • Develop benefits for membership. The benefit most often given is the donor’s name listed in publications or in a recognition display. Other benefits could include invitations to events, access to organization resources or gatherings with organization leadership.
  • Choosing an appropriate name. Even what the group is called is important: Club, society, council or circle are all possibilities. Some organizations consider the word society to be elitist and consider the word circle as more inclusive.
  • Develop a plan. This starts with understanding the objectives of the club.
  • Implement the plan. Throughout the implementation phase, development staff will monitor the results of each strategy and modify the plan as needed.
  • Evaluate the program. At regular intervals throughout the course of the year, the progress in meeting goals will be measured.