Let’s face it, just about everybody likes to be recognized for doing good things.

And making a planned gift, well that’s a very good thing. It shows genuine commitment to making a real and lasting difference for your nonprofit and those you serve.

One of the best ways to consistently honor your donors is to launch a recognition society. It strengthens your relationship with existing donors and has the ripple effect of subtly encouraging others to consider a planned gift.

Yet for those just ramping up a Planned Giving program, the idea of establishing a recognition society can seem daunting and time-consuming.

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be either.

The first step is to realize that something is better than nothing. Very few people do good things just for the thank you. But if there isn’t some thank you, they will notice. And it may get under their skin.

Fortunately there are very simple ways to show appreciation that won’t cost you a lot of time or money, and can serve as that vital first step to building a more robust recognition program over time.

How simple? Let’s start with just an ordinary roll of masking tape.

Say you have an annual or upcoming event and there are a handful of donors who made planned gift commitments in recent months. Just nicely write their names on the tape, stick it to some chairs near the front of the room and create a small sign denoting “VIP Section.”

Presto, you just launched your recognition program.

Now look for ways to weave donor recognition into your routine communications and activities. You can create a donor spotlight in your monthly or quarterly newsletter or showcase folks in your annual report.

It can grow from there. Next you could invite key donors – now dignitaries – on a half-day trip to visit a site where your work is making an impact or to a fun event or one connected to your mission.

As your society grows with new gifts, explore some more lasting ideas such as creating a wall of fame in a public area, or committing budget to hosting an annual recognition lunch with an inspiring, informative keynote speaker. Someone from your org perhaps?

Over time, these and similar activities will become part of your ongoing routine. But more important, you will be showing gratitude to your key donors.

Nearly everyone likes to be recognized for doing good things. Launching an earnest recognition society is a very good thing – for your donors and your nonprofit.