Can Creative Naming of Donation Levels Motivate Folks to Give More?

Dear Kim,

I have stepped into a role that relies heavily on fundraising skills. I have not been a fundraiser and am looking forward to developing this new skill. One of the first things I must do is establish “levels” of donations. We are a pediatric facility that is part of a large organization. Is it appropriate to designate levels of giving that are related to kid themes, or do you suggest sticking with tried and true levels such as platinum, silver, gold, President’s Circle, etc?
—In need of guidance

Dear In Need,

Good luck in your new role. I think it is great that you are looking forward to it. Your enthusiasm will carry you a long way. Skills can be learned, but nothing happens without excitement. To answer your question, I don’t know any studies that indicate how you should name your giving levels, but I know from my own experience and hearing other people talk that we are bored to death with platinum, gold, lead, mud, or President’s Circle, Vice President’s triangle, and the like. I think the most creative gift levels get the most attention, so using kid themes is a great idea. It lends itself to all kinds of graphic elements as well. Further, creativity and fun in the way you raise money for the pediatric program will lend credibility to the excellence of your work with children.

I did once hear a funny story about giving levels. A wilderness preservation organization had giving levels of manatee, jaguar, polar bear, and so on. People gave at a certain level and also learned more about their animal. Some people became so attached to the manatee that they did not want to move on to a jaguar. Let’s hope this will not happen when you try to move people from “Cat in the Hat” to “Charlotte’s Web.”