by Dan Schipp
Not long ago I had the opportunity to attend an organization’s annual gathering for members of its planned giving society.
It was an impressive event, not because of great fanfare or an extraordinary venue, but because of the generous hospitality extended to the guests and the messages conveyed to them: we’re glad you’re here, we care about you, you are helping us accomplish great things, and we thank you for building the endowments that help sustain our programs and outreach.
This organization got a lot of things right with this event. First and foremost, the hospitality was superb.
- A staff member greeted arriving guests in the parking lot and directed them to the reception area.
- Golf carts transported those who needed assistance.
- Name tags (with sufficiently large print!) were provided to all guests and staff.
- Overnight lodging was arranged for those who had traveled a distance.
In addition to making all guests feel genuinely welcomed and appreciated, the organization impressively carried out several other aspects of this “thank you” event for members of its planned giving society.
- New members of the society were introduced.
- Members of the society who had passed away in the past year were remembered.
- The president of the organization, not only extended his gratitude to the members for their support, but inspired them with his remarks about the lives impacted and the exciting opportunities made possible by their generosity.
- A print annual report, listing members, summarizing the different programs and activities funded by endowments, and offering a brief recap of the endowment’s growth and performance during the past year, was distributed to guests.
One last highlight of this well-planned and executed event was the featured speaker at the after dinner program — a recent alumnus of the school. He acknowledged that as a student he did not realize how endowed funds were influencing his education and he gave personal and concrete witness to the impact of endowment-building through planned giving.
- Endowed scholarships not only directly assisted him, but they also promoted greater diversity within the student body.
- Endowed faculty development funds helped the school retain a top-notch faculty.
- Lectures presented by outstanding speakers were made possible by endowments, as were study abroad opportunities.
- Even today the alumnus benefits from planned gifts to his alma mater by way of a continuing education program in which he is currently participating and for which the school is building a sustaining endowment.
Yes, this organization offered its planned giving donors a memorable evening because it did several things right.
- It executed a well-conceived plan.
- It attended to the details of hospitality.
- It enabled donors to hear and see in a very personal way how their planned gifts were assisting others.
I hope you can find ways to incorporate some of these key elements of hospitality into your own donor recognition events.