The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need 24/25 - hold an umbrella over someone's head

Donor recognition pays

Donkeys crossing warning sign - triangular road sign outside the Donkey Sanctuary, Devon - photo: Howard Lake
Donkeys crossing – look out!

On holiday in Devon recently, I visited the famous Donkey Sanctuary (yes really!). Two things struck me. Firstly, entry was free – a great way to attract new donors from around the country. Secondly, on the walls around the site were huge boards naming their legacy donors, year by year – and I mean huge! They were unmissable and listed the many hundreds of people who have remembered this charity in their wills. So what can we learn from this?

The Donkey Sanctuary calls these boards its Memory Wall and, although it does not make a big play of it in its legacy promotion, it must be having an effect, as legacies account for over £18 million of its £27 million income.

This got me thinking about how we thank and recognise our donors. Charities do this in many different ways, from the traditional books of remembrance, to plaques on the wall, tree planting, lists in annual reports and, more recently, on their web pages.

What struck me at the Donkey Sanctuary was their very public form of recognition and how it no doubt also functions as a prompt to visitors to leave a legacy. So a combination of free entry, a good visitor experience and public recognition has been very effective in securing donations, including legacies, for this charity.


Getting Started with TikTok: An Introduction to Fundraising & Supporter Engagement

The question then is whether your charity is making the most of its opportunities to thank and recognise its special donors. You may not have any fluffy donkeys or even space for a memory wall, but maybe you have some other opportunities to be developed?

Cash collection box with a model of a donkey on top at The Donkey Sanctuary, Devon. Photo: Howard Lake
Cash donations are also accepted at The Donkey Sanctuary


Simon George is a Director of Wootton George Consulting and a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising. He has worked in fundraising since 1987 and was the founder of the IoF’s Trusts Special Interest Group. Today he works with a wide range of charities in a consultancy capacity, specialising in strategy, legacies and trusts. si***@wg**********.uk Tel 01785 663600.