Whether your milestone is a birthday recognizing the organization’s founding, the day your nonprofit adopted a major program, or marks 100,000 people served, significant milestones create opportunities to build loyalty and strengthen relationships.

When planning for your major milestone, remember there are three opportunities:

  • It happened: Create a milestone logo for your website and social media throughout the year. Send a framed photo to key constituents commemorating the event.
  • It is happening: Share events and celebrations the day of and event using media and social media.
  • It will happen: Before the milestone, communicate a countdown. Send out a “Save the Date” reminder or offer other teasers.


Remind people from your past how important they were to your current success. Plan events, large and small, around the organization’s founding. Feature past board members, employees, alumni, and those whose names are on your donor walls and/or their families. Ask questions, listen, and connect the past to the present.


If your milestone is significant, such as a major birthday, plan events leading up to a centerpiece celebration event. Brainstorm activities that will help cultivate, identify and appreciate donors. Throw a birthday party, host a small parade, watch a film originating in your founding year, or ask your mayor to issue a proclamation and read it at a public event. If you are in or planning to launch a major campaign, use your milestone to kick off the public phase, celebrate campaign success with an event or make a major gift announcement.


Milestones create an opportunity to look to the future. If the nonprofit is turning 30, cast a vision for the next 30 years. This is also an excellent time to seek estate gifts, as you talk about the future. Consider using your milestone to drive your fundraising goals, such as honoring 30 founding members in a newly formed Legacy Society to celebrate your 30th anniversary.

Executed with creativity and intention, your milestones can drive development activities throughout the year – or until you’re ready to celebrate the next milestone!

Karin Cox MFA

Karin Cox, MFA
President and Co-founder
Wilmington, N.C.