Jun 7, 2021 | Articles

From the arts to charitable organizations, donors are the cornerstone of any non-profit.

Their gifts make it possible to carry out your mission, serve the community, and enhance the lives of others, so why not showcase your gratitude for your patrons’ generosity? Donor recognition projects often have many moving parts and may seem overwhelming at first. Fortunately, with the right guidance and information, you can create an eye catching donor wall that reflects your deep appreciation and inspires giving, too.  

Read on for six tried-and-true best practices to help bring your recognition display to life and make it a valuable tool for donor stewardship.

1. Begin the planning process well in advance.

It’s best to treat donor walls and recognition signage as you would any other complex project, with a clear decision-making process in place and sufficient time allotted for review and feedback. Start by collaborating with architects, physical plant staff, and other key team members to develop a plan for integrating donor recognition into your capital plan. Ideally, this collaborative planning process should take place at least a year before the wall design process is slated to begin.

2. Determine your budget and stick to it.

Although many donor recognition displays are installed on the fly or as an afterthought, you’ll get the best results if you take the necessary time to envision your donor wall and secure the resources to create it. The industry standard is to budget 1% of the campaign goal for post-campaign donor recognition, but your organization may opt for more or less than that amount, depending upon the size and complexity of the display you’re planning.

3. Choose a theme.

Before your dive into designing your donor wall, give careful thought to the overall message you want to convey. This theme will tie everything together and help prevent you from veering off track. More than a simple list of names, the best recognition displays represent an organization’s mission and vision. Consider questions such as: Is your organization at the cutting edge or is it more traditional and family-oriented? Are you focused on the arts or sciences? If your institution has a long history, do you want to celebrate that richness in your display?

4. Who do you want to recognize?

As you consider your various benefactors, there are likely a number of people and organizations that have made important contributions, such as: 

Major donors:  At a minimum, these patrons should have their names prominently posted on your display

Planned gifts: These donations are usually among the largest that nonprofits receive, so these generous patrons should definitely be included in any donor recognition effort

Capital campaigns: If you raised money to construct or renovate a building or other aspect of your property, consider placing a recognition wall there to publicly thank your donors for their generosity

In-kind donors: If you hosted an event, you probably received some form of in-kind donation from a sponsor, such as the venue, food, or auction items 

Sponsorships: Be sure to thank the businesses and organizations that sponsor your events or contribute to your campaigns

5. Where will you place your donor wall?

Your new recognition display will likely vie for space with other installations. Today’s contemporary building designs don’t offer as much wall space as older buildings do and lobbies have gotten smaller, too. That means you may have to get creative to secure the right place to install your gorgeous new recognition display. The talented designers at Adler Display are experts at ingenuity and can configure your donor wall design to suit whatever space you have available.

6. Consider creating a personalized brand experience by incorporating a digital display.

Multi-sensory donor wall displays that include videos, touchscreens, and audio options allow visitors to consume your content in ways they find personally meaningful. You can also use digital media to illustrate how your values and those of your most generous donors are aligned. Broadcast video segments of donor interviews, ribbon cuttings, and footage of donation dollars in action to depict a memorable, one-of-a-kind viewer experience.

It takes many hands to make your non-profit great. A well-designed recognition display is a great way to reward your current donors and encourage prospective benefactors to give to future campaigns.

With a creative, experienced recognition partner and some planning, you can create a donor wall that gives your patrons the recognition they deserve without breaking the bank.

If you’re seeking to create a donor wall that fits your culture, budget, and space, Adler Display is here to help. Offering an extraordinary selection of cost-effective materials and innovative design approaches, our highly skilled team will devise the ideal solution for today’s dynamic fundraising landscape. Contact us today to get started!

About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at https://www.adlerdisplay.com/ or call 855-552-3537.