Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Everything You Should Know to Plan a Donor Recognition Wall

Aug 08, 2019 11:44 AM EDT

Donors Recognition Wall
(Photo : Unsplash)

When you're participating in or heading up a fundraiser project, you may also be charged with the creation of a donor recognition wall. Donor recognition walls are big projects, and they're important, as well. 

You have different options available in terms of what the display will look like. For example, if you have just a few major donors, your wall may include custom plaques. A custom plaque recognizing a donor is going to have a different design and overall look and feel than something like a custom memorial plaque.  

On the other hand, if you have many donors, you might want signs that list everyone. 

There are tons of different ways you can approach the actual implementation of a donor recognition wall, and the following are some things to know to help you get started. 

What is a Donor Recognition Wall?

Donor recognition walls, if you're not entirely familiar with the concept, started in the early 20thcentury.

These displays are usually wall-mounted and some of the places you might see them include:

  • Hospitals

  • Colleges and universities

  • Libraries

  • Churches and other areas of worship

  • Nonprofits

  • Museums

Essentially, a donor wall is a way to list the names of people who contributed to major fundraises or a capital campaign. 

These walls are an important part of many fundraising projects because they encourage people to donate and be incentivized for that. 

The most traditional donor walls usually included a title and the names of the donors on engraved plaques or panels. 

Now, the sky can be the limit. Some donor walls are high-tech multimedia presentations, or they may use a combination of styles and materials.

When you're in the earliest phases of planning a donor wall, you will need to set a standard for the minimum amount someone donates to be recognized. 

What Overall Style Should You Use?

When you're exploring the different styles, from traditional to modern, it's important to think about the building the donor wall will be displayed in, and the type of organization.

Donor walls aren't just part of the fundraising process-they're also a key aesthetic item in many buildings. 

If your donor wall is in a very traditional space but is stylistic and modern, it's not going to create a cohesive feel. 

Coordinating the Project

Logistically, planning a donor wall can take quite a bit of work.

It's important to start as soon as possible and doesn't wait until the last minute.

Also, get multiple stakeholders involved in the project. 

This might include your board members, people from your marketing team and other people who work in fundraising.

When you have multiple people involved from different areas of the organization, you can ensure you're capturing your spirit with your donor wall, and you'll get creative input and insight. 

At the very start of your project, you also want to have a clearly defined idea of what you hope to achieve.

For example, maybe you want a donor wall as a way to strengthen and maintain relationships with your current donors, or perhaps it's primarily to help incentivize new donors. 

If you want new donors, you also want an eye-catching display that grabs attention. 

Create a theme as well as a general objective. Your theme will tie everything together and will help prevent you from veering off track.

The Content

When you're organizing the content on a donor wall, think about how you want to use images as compared to text. Are you going to include additional content besides donor names, such as timelines, or the mission and values of your organization?

How will categories be broken down and listed and will you give your major donors separate plaques or a separate section of the display?

How are you going to verify how donors want their names listed.

Do you need specialized content and if so, who's in charge of that?

How will you add to your display when necessary?

You will have to consider your budget as well. Donor wall projects are an investment, so you need to set a budget for the core components, which are the initial design process, the fabrication, and the installation.

Factor ongoing updates and changes into your budget as well.

Finally, think about how you'll unveil your donor wall. You'll want a ceremony or event that feels in line with the display itself, and again, this will be something you have to include in your budget for the overall project.

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