September 23, 2022  |   5 min read

Five Tips For Tribute and Memorial Giving

It’s Friday, so obviously it’s Friday Five time. This week we’ll discuss Tribute and Memorial Giving.

America is widely considered to be one of the more generous countries when looking at donating time, money and assisting strangers. According to the World Index, when comparing countries over the years America ranks first, tied with Mayar. This is why so many nonprofits are able to be successful from sea to shining sea.

A common reason for donating is in someone’s name for a cause which is/was either dear to said person, or part of remembering them. This is referred to as a tribute or memorial donation.  Let’s get right to tips on how to keep track of your tributes and some best practices.

1. In Honor or Memory

Okay, we need to get a tad sensitive for a moment. When giving on behalf of another person the first distinguishing factor is their living status, or what side of the ground they’re occupying. This option should be presented at the beginning of the tribute process as delicately as possible. If the person is alive – which is great – the donor is making a contribution “In Honor” of them.  For example, a family member who makes a tribute donation to the Breast Cancer Society for their aunt who beat breast cancer would make this donation in honor of her. A great cause, to be sure.

On the other hand, if the person is no longer with us, the donation is made in their memory.  

It’s simple, but important. And delicate. Very delicate.

2. Normal or Restricted

The donor typically has the option to specify how the money is to be used.  Most tributes are unrestricted, therefore can be treated as a normal donation. In this case, your organization can use the donation at its discretion. PRO TIP: For the recording process, there should be a note by the donation referencing for whom it was made.

Like other donations, tributes with restrictions can influence time, purpose, or both.  If they are restricted, they should be recorded as such and only be used accordingly.

3. How to Best Track Tributes

Keeping track of tributes in a spreadsheet can be frustrating and time consuming.  Using a CRM is best practice. Everything is recorded at once and easily referenceable.  Not to toot our own horn, but we think DonorNinja has a robust donation tool which allows for a seamless donation recording process, including tributes. 

4. Express Gratitude, Notify a Beneficiary

If using a CRM, a donation receipt and thank you letter is likely automatically sent.  It’s worth noting if this is not the case, it should be. Especially for this type of donation. 

During the creation process of the tribute, you can offer the donor the ability to specify how to notify the beneficiary.  How the beneficiary is notified will depend on whether this was an “in honor” or “in memory” tribute. While this is likely a personal donation, and while your organization may have the necessary information, providing a field for either email or physical address ensures everything goes to the proper place.  

PRO TIP: As emails are so common these days, a physical letter might make a larger impact.

5. Symbolic Meaning

By creating a memorable experience for the tribute benefactor, they are more likely to be a repeat donor.  Offer the ability to “adopt” an animal, student, road, etc. Specifying where the donation is going can make a special donation all the more impactful.  While a gift can be sent with good intentions, we urge you to be careful as the cost of the gift could be seen as a reduction of the tribute, even if that’s not the case.

Have a good weekend and as always, share and comment your thoughts or if you have any others!

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DonorNinja is a software tool focused on streamlining donor and constituent management for nonprofits of all sizes. Our easy-to-use, unified platform allows nonprofit partners to manage fundraising, marketing, reporting and events in one place, affordably.

We believe strongly in relationships, so our team is partner focused, always striving to provide the best experience possible. We know the work your organization does matters and our system frees time so you can better focus on your amazing work!


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