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I'm curious what steps your organizations might have in place for gifts you receive that are in memory or honor of an individual? When an acknowledgee is provided, whether it's the individual being honored or a loved one of the deceased, what is your current process for making those individuals aware that a gift has been made? Letters, cards? How often and do you provide a list of donors along with the letter and/or card?
I work at a Humane Society and we receive several hundred tributes - both for pet and pet lovers - each year.
Our policy is as follows:
For "people" memorials (where they have designated the Humane Society as a recipient of tribute gifts)
For "pet" memorials
For "people" and "pet" tributes (non-memorial - ie: birthday, holiday, pet adoption, pet birthday, etc)
Also....to create awareness of tribute giving - I have printed on the back of our cards "Did you know you can make a tribute gift to the Humane Society? It's simple - in lieu of a gift, donate in honor of someone instead! We make your gift giving special by sending a personalized card to the person or pet indicated - just like the card you are receiving now - letting them know you have donated in their honor." Just go online to xxxxxxx or call xxx-xxx-xxxx. I only send these with non-memorial tributes.
I hope this helps!
Thanks so much it does help. The addition about making a tribute gift is a great idea too!
We send a thank you letter within 48 hours to all donors who contribute in memory or in honor of a loved one. We use "in memory of" to indicate when gifts are received "in lieu of flowers" and there is an obituary in the newspaper. We use "in tribute to" if we receive a memorial gift as a result of an appeal or via our web site. We use "in honor of" for a gift that recognizes a person who is living.
Every Monday, we run the tribute report to get a list of the donors so that we can send the names and addresses to a family member of the deceased or to the person who is being honored. We opted to send the letters weekly because the deceased family usually wants to send out thank you letters as well..
It's a difficult time for a family to lose a loved one. Our philosophy has been to let them know right away of a gift so that they can bring closure for their loss. After 3 months, we change the tribute from "in memory of" to "in tribute to" and change our letter. At this time, memorial gifts may be as a result of an obituary.
I hope this helps.
The # of memorials/tributes we have is much smaller than what Marsha described.
Our procedure is to write thank you/receipt to donor referencing memorial/tribute upon receipt. As a community organization, we almost always know the person/family being honored with the gifts. Sometimes, they bring in the gifts themselves following the funeral. Our exec will often write a specific thank you describing the impact this person has had on the Y when it's a board member/long time staff or volunteer/major supporter, etc. We do an acknowledgement/thank you letter to the honoree/spouse/family and exec adds personal notes. Depending on if it's a single gift or a sizeable list, the donors are listed in this letter or an attachment. For ones where gifts continue to be received over a period of time, I think a weekly update is nice.
Like I said we're small town, community org, smaller # of tributes & memorials but this works well for us.
We are a large non profit hospice so most of our gifts are in memory of someone with a family member to notify. We send the family a letter along with a list of those who have donated in memory of their loved one. We provide the family with the donors name and addresses only. We send out letters on a daily basis, as our mail is quite heavy.
We have a high volume of memorials & a dedicated staff person who processes all commemorative gifts. She sends a handwritten card to all acknowledgees within a few days of receiving the gift (often before the gift itself is booked). If it's a "high profile" memorial that we know will be getting alot of gifts or we receive more than a handful in a given week, she'll send cards in weekly batches.
How long do you use the same letter? We acknowledge w/in 48 hours too. We use to use letters, but our boss didn't like the families to receive the same "form" letter every time we acknowledge gifts to them. This is why we started using the pre-printed forms. No letter was necessary and it was okay to have a 'standard' form look vs letter.
Debra, what do your preprinted forms look like?
Also, do you send the list of ALL donor names or just the ones that have specified to notify the family and gave contact info?
For those using the letters, how do you personalize them? Right now I have a template and I manually personalize each one, its pretty time consuming.
We set up our aknowledgement letters through the mail merg wizard and have a merge field for the memorial name, so the letter is personalized. As we complete each batch- which is usually around 25 gifts - we process our thank you letters and our acknowledgement letters to the families. We print out a tribute report for that batch and place it with the acknowledgement letter. We've tried to do acknowledgement letters on a daily basis rather than a 'batch basis" so the families wouldn't receive so many individual letters ( and save postage for us) but it was difficult for us as we have letters that we sometimes need to "tweak" with additional information. There are two of us doing the gift entry, so it is just better if we each do our own mail merges as we complete our batches. We always notify a family member unless they donor wants to remain anonymous or if the donor specifically states "do not notify the family".
We have notified Merge Field
Donor: Merge Field
Date Received: 2/24/2011
Amount Received: $25.00
Donation: $25.00 Receipt #: 468631580; Check #:1034
We print 3 to a page and then we have a very nice card we place these inside with a message to the donor that is pre-printed about the service area they have chosen to support w/ their gift.
We do this same thing for our family members, only change the wording to say "the following ...has made a gift in (merge) memory or honor of (merge) ....supporting...merge...and. If a family has multiple gifts from to different donors.. it prints out individual forms w/ donor name and address and what was supported. We have a very nice "card" that talks about honor/memorial giving that we place these in and send to the families. Works well and we don't have to worry about changing a form letter.
Be careful that your acknowledgements comply with IRS publication 1771. As they are shown above I would think they might not unless when the donation amount is less than the amount receieved there is additional information added to specifically isolate the value of benefits received and a written description of those benefits.
Melissa, I understand the tax law, but have always struggled with the proper wording... will you give me an example of how you receipt the donor when they did receive goods/services? We do events all the time..so use the example of a dinner reservation where they pay $150 for reservations but only $75 is tax deductible. Thanks!
I can do one better - the IRS uses some samples in their acknowledgement instructions http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1771.pdf. You would be better off with samples from them than from any other charity.
We actually rarely give QPQ receipts. We are not a membership org, do not give token benefits, and all of our events are free.