Tribute giving is when a donor makes a donation in someone else’s name to honor that person or to celebrate a special occasion. Tribute gifts are most often made by supporters with a strong belief in your mission who prefer to donate to a good cause rather than spend money on traditional gifts.

According to the Global Trends in Giving Report, 33% of donors worldwide give tribute gifts. The top five occasions they prefer for tribute giving are:

  1. Memorials: When a donor makes a tribute gift in memory of a beloved family member, friend, or pet.
  2. Birthdays: Tribute gifts to celebrate someone’s birthday.
  3. Religious holidays: Tribute gifts given in lieu of Christmas gifts, Hannukah gifts, and Eid al-Fitr gifts. Other holidays to consider for your tribute giving program are the Lunar New Year and Diwali.
  4. Weddings: Most often requested by the couple getting married, wedding tribute gifts are made to the couple’s favorite nonprofit in lieu of traditional wedding gifts.
  5. New baby: Less common, but for fitting for nonprofits whose mission is to improve maternal health and infants.

Nonprofits began to offer tribute gifts in the early 2000s. At the time, tribute donors would mail a check along with the contact information of their tribute gift recipients to their chosen nonprofit and the nonprofit would then mail the tribute gift recipient an acknowledgement letter or card.

Today, the tribute giving process is entirely online and easy for both the donor and the nonprofit, yet most nonprofits underutilize tribute giving as a fundraising tool. According to the Global NGO Technology Report, only 34% of nonprofits worldwide utilize tribute giving and even then, most tribute giving programs exist solely as a tick box on a nonprofit’s primary donation page.

Our first guide, How to Launch & Grow a Tribute Giving Program: A Step-by-Step Guide for Nonprofits, will help your nonprofit launch (or re-launch) a tribute giving program to better serve your donors and to maximize fundraising success.