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Anonymous gifts and thank yous

  • 1.  Anonymous gifts and thank yous

    Posted 07-23-2021 09:50 AM

    Good morning,


    I am looking under the best practices and searching archives but was hoping to get some help a bit quicker than that.  I'll start with we are still working to finalize our anonymous policy.  When a donor makes a gift and selects it to be anonymous (more often than not it is an online donation) the reports sent to the departments list the gift as being from 'Anonymous'.  I have a coach who wants to be sure to thank everyone who donated during our giving challenge but there are a number of those gifts that are 'anonymous'.  While I understand what he wants to do and from a stewardship standpoint it makes sense, these people did say they wanted to be anonymous.


    How do others handle these situations?  Is it clear in your anonymous policy how these are handled?


    Thank you and happy Friday!



    Amanda L. Haney

    Director of Gift & Data Management

    Gift & Data Management



    University Advancement I New England Center I 15 Strafford Ave I Durham, NH 03824

    Office: 603-862-2041 I


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  • 2.  RE: Anonymous gifts and thank yous

    Posted 07-23-2021 10:01 AM
    You probably need to have multiple categories of anonymity.  If all you have is on and off, then you cannot share any donor information with anyone period.

    So tell the coach, Sorry.

    However, most donors just do not want their names published outside the University.  They are usually fine with internal notifications and like getting those thank you letters.  So you should consider this "middle ground" level of anonymity on a gift-by-gift basis.  You might need to modify your options on the website to offer two types of anonymity - complete (no one will know) or "no external publicity", meaning you can share internally.

    I have shared my suggestions for anonymity policies before.  But since you are in a hurry, here's the reader's digest version of the three degrees of anonymity I suggest:

    1.      Completely Anonymous.  This option should be rarely used – if used at all.  The gift is not entered on a person's record but, instead, on a generic record.  Only the donor, Advancement Services, and perhaps the development officer working directly with the donor know who made the gift.  However, at least one institution official must know the identity of the donor with the exception noted above.  The only indication of the gift on any report generated using advancement data is that a gift was made by an "Anonymous Alumni," "Anonymous Faculty/Staff," etc.

    2.      Internally Anonymous.  Code the actual donor record as an "Anonymous Record."  With this option, gifts and pledges continue to be entered on the record of an individual.  However, their record is flagged as anonymous.  These donors do not want any publicity regarding their donations.  Nor do they want any mention of their gifts outside the organization community.  They usually do not want personal thank you letters, other than the standard gift acknowledgment (receipt) sent by Advancement Services.  They do not want to see their names on honor rolls, wall plaques, etc.  This coding remains permanent until otherwise requested by the donor.  With such a request, the donor is informed that removing the code will result in all prior and future gifts being made available for publicity (unless individual gifts are coded as anonymous – see below).  When accessing the record via the Advancement system, you should be alerted of the anonymous status.  Standard gift reports generated by Advancement Services do not show the donor's name or address – just the fact that a gift was made by someone requesting anonymity.  Individuals performing their list pulls, or data extracts must be aware of and understand, the significance of this record status.

    3.      Anonymous Gift.  Occasionally a donor will make a single gift that they do not want to be acknowledged outside the organization community.  This request is common when someone does not want their spouse, or someone being honored, to know they made the gift.  On standard gift reports generated through Advancement Services, you will be able to identify who made the gift, but the report will also indicate that the gift was made anonymously.  If considering some publicity for the gift, the staff member should communicate with the donor to determine what might be appropriate.

    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987