This week I shot an email to a client who had just finished a successful campaign.

“Send thank you gifts to your larger donors and the parents who helped you raise so much. This way they’ll be on board next year as well.” 

He responded, “Any ideas of what I should send?”

It’s a great question because giving great gifts is not so simple. 

  • What should you give?
  • How much should you spend?
  • When should you give gifts?

Like any art, there are basic principles you can apply.

The purpose of giving any gift is to create a connection. We want to do this with the people who add value to our organization. That’s our bigger donors, ambassadors, team members and volunteers.

When you do it right, giving gifts works for a number of reasons according to John Ruhlin, author of Giftology:

– The first is it helps you stand out from the crowd.

– Second, gifting fills a primal need we all have to feel important.

When you send a gift that is personalized and meaningful, the other person is hard-wired to appreciate it.

They are also hard-wired to reciprocate that act of generosity by giving you something in return, which could be their time or a donation.

What should you give?

When giving a one-off gift to a large donor, consider something that reflects his interests. Is he a baseball fan or does he collect rare sefarim? Does he appreciate whiskey or is he growing in his Jewish observance? Think gift ideas in those areas.

Another approach is to give gifts that specifically create a connection to your organization’s mission. 

When it comes to how much to spend, this boils down to people’s perception of you and your organization.

Simply put, if you feed the poor, your gift spend will be much less.

If your supporters are accustomed to receiving more expensive gifts, to recognize their generosity, your gift spend will have to be more.

Whatever your budget is, look for the more refined item at your budget level. At the lower budget end, a handwritten note on quality paper is better than a cheap pen with your logo on it.

At the higher end, think practical luxuries.

The type of things that are useful to the recipient. Things that they would be proud to be seen using. There are many Judaica items that fit these criteria.

Another detail to take into account is that people appreciate gifts that don’t add additional clutter to their lives. Focus on things that they can use and enjoy frequently. 

To really star in gift-giving, Ruhlin advises that “your gift should be a conversation starter, which will allow you to stay on the top of someone’s mind.”

When should you give gifts?

The basic rule is that you’ll get the best response from people when you gift them at unexpected times. You should not be sending gifts when everybody else is.

This doesn’t mean you should cancel the cheesecake you’re planning on giving to your donors this week! It will be appreciated.

But consider what else you can give, at a different time, that will have more of an impact and won’t get lost amongst those from other organizations.

Should your organization’s logo be on the gift?

Not always.

You want the gift to connect the donor to your organization. Keep the focus of the gift on him, not you. So if it will have a logo, keep it unobtrusive.

Being donor centric and personalizing the gift with the donor’s name can be much more effective.


B’hatzlacha raba raba!




Avraham Lewis crafts fundraising success for Jewish leaders, with just not enough time

See live campaigns he’s coaching here and here

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