Your Step-by-Step Guide to Donor Wall Planning

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Donor Wall Planning

Help! I need to create a donor wall. Where should I start?

Creating a donor recognition wall doesn’t have to be an intimidating project.

If you’re tasked with devising a way to show your appreciation for your patrons and benefactors, it may seem overwhelming at first. There are many variables to consider and you might be unsure how to begin planning your recognition project. Fortunately, with some guidance and organization, you can create a beautiful donor wall that shows your appreciation, leaves a legacy, and inspires giving. Read on for some helpful guidelines for determining the approach that’s right for your organization and bringing your donor recognition display to life.

Start the conversation well in advance.

Begin your planning process 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 more than a year before the design work is slated to begin. We recommend treating your donor wall like any other complex project, with a clear decision-making process in place and sufficient time allotted for constituency review and feedback collection.

Establish a budget.

It’s surprisingly common to find that donor recognition displays were rendered an afterthought. The ideal approach is to take time at the outset to envision your donor wall and secure the resources to create it. Across the nonprofit sector, the industry standard is to budget 1% of campaign goal for post-campaign donor recognition. Your organization may budget more or less than that amount, depending upon the size, materials and complexity of the display you’re planning.

Determine who you want to recognize.

As you consider your various benefactors, there are likely a number of individuals and organizations that have made important contributions. These may include:  

  • Major donors certainly deserve—and may even expect—to have their name prominently posted. It’s not uncommon to offer to name a room or wing after a donor whose significant gift helped to build it.
  • Planned gifts are often among the largest that nonprofits receive, so these generous patrons should definitely be included in any donor recognition effort. It may even encourage others to leave a legacy through their planned gifts.
  • Capital campaigns are usually an organization’s longest and highest-grossing funding mission. If you raised money to construct or renovate a building, you’ll want to consider placing a recognition wall there to publicly thank your donors for their generosity.
  • In-kind donors often play an important role in fundraising efforts. If you hosted an event, you likely received some form of in-kind donation from a sponsor, such as the venue, equipment, or auction items. 
  • Sponsorships are probably responsible for some of your revenue, too. Don’t forget to thank the businesses and organizations that sponsor your events or contribute to your campaigns!

Where will your donor wall go?

Wall space is at a premium these days. Contemporary facility design trends toward more window and less wall. And lobbies are not as expansive as they used to be. That means your recognition display will likely vie for space with other new installations. The talented designers at Adler Display can develop creative options for tailoring your donor wall to whatever space you have available—from blending recognition into existing architectural elements to nesting an interactive donor wall within traditional panels for a cost-effective, space-saving solution.

Keep your ultimate goal in mind.

The purpose of a recognition display is to reward your current donors and encourage prospective benefactors to give to future campaigns. With a creative, experienced recognition partner and some advance planning, you can create a donor wall that gives your patrons the recognition they deserve—without breaking the bank.

Adler Display can create a donor wall that fits your culture, budget, and available space. From an unprecedented selection of cost-effective materials to our innovative design approaches, an array of options awaits you. Please contact our helpful team to learn more.

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 or call 855-552-3537.