July 28, 2017

Celebrating Success: How Our Readers Mark Fundraising Accomplishments

Adolfo Chavez III

Monica Polisetty, associate director of philanthropic resources at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, rings a brass bell to celebrate closing a $10 million estate gift.

It’s important to take time to acknowledge victories, both big and small.

So a few weeks ago, we asked you to share how you recognize success at your organization. Several of you mentioned small acknowledgments in emails and meetings, as well as special parties and small gifts.

Some organizations, though, took their celebrations a step further.

Below are three of the best examples our readers shared.

Rocking the Office

Gifts of more than $1 million to George Washington University are celebrated with what the fundraisers call "Random Acts of Celebration and Kindness," or ROCK.

A small group gets together to surprise the successful fundraiser with a quick, on-the-spot celebration, often in that fundraiser’s staff meeting. The group walks in to cheer and give the recipient school-color beads and a certificate marking the gift.

The office documents the surprise with photos that it shares on the department’s intranet.

Specialty Drinks

Another university’s foundation-relations office celebrates big wins at a local bar by ordering a drink that somehow honors the foundation.

The university preferred not to be named. (We hope it’s not because it’s trying to duck the bar tab.)

We love the idea of ordering a drink that fits the gift. If we were a nonprofit celebrating a grant from, say, the Ford Foundation, which was established with automotive wealth, we’d order a sidecar. Carnegie Corporation of New York? A manhattan. The Heinz Endowments? A bloody mary (for the tomato juice).

Ringing the Bell

It’s a tradition at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for patients to ring a brass bell at the end of their cancer treatment.

The fundraising office adapted the practice. When a fundraiser secures a big gift, he or she rings a bell to honor patients and mark that the fundraisers are doing their part to beat cancer.

The tradition "reminds us of why we do what we do every day," says Sarah Watson, program director for development communications at the center.


How do you celebrate success in your organization? Tell us in the comments below — and if you have an idea for a cocktail in honor of your favorite grant maker, add that, too.

Send an email to Cody Switzer.