An important part of any project is to convey gratitude to those who aided in your success. A popular and striking way to do that is with a donor wall, a public place that recognizes those who donated to your cause. You want to provide access, information and recognition to your special group of donors.
A donor wall doesn’t have to be expensive; some suggest a budget of about 5% of total project cost. Fortunately, there are a number of creative ways to incorporate renewable materials to make million dollar donor walls from modest budgets.
Accurately Reflect Your Mission/Project
Get creative with your donor wall. The closer the recognition matches your project, or mission, the more emotional impact it will have. For example, for the San Francisco Food Bank, SOM Graphics designed a donor wall that recognizes people with their name printed on a tin can. The wall is a noticeable focal point in the lobby of their building.
A second example of a wonderful donor wall/mission tie in is the Paw Wall, done for the Humane Society. Individual donors are recognized in their own personal paw print. A number of companies are ready and willing to design donor walls for a fee, but a simple recreation with paper or recycled materials would work well on a small budget.Think cork board, bottle caps, poster board or even construction paper if your wall is temporary. Something popular in philanthropy is to work with a local artist to design something completely unique.
Consider Your Resources
When planning a donor wall, how much space do you have for it? How much time do you have to secure all of the funds? And how many creative types do you have ready and willing to do the work?
For the project that has years to come to fruition and ample space to spread out, a brick walk way is a wonderful approach to recognizing donors. Personally engraved bricks that line a garden or an accent wall not only recognize supporters, they provide a park-like atmosphere and structure to a garden or building.
On the other end of the spectrum there are a number of colorful, creative ways to say thank you.
The donor recognition wall at Temple Agudath Israel School is heartfelt and simple. Laminated paper tiles of kids’ hands and footprints are colorfully displayed. A second wall incorporates photographs, hand drawn pictures and sayings.
Looking for something in between a brick lane and a pretty paper wall? There are a number of things you can do with technology, say a page on Facebook, a website or a projected display in a lobby.
Think About Longevity
Think about how long you will have your display. Are you recognizing supporters for a month? a year? 25 years? What kind of maintenance is involved in preserving your wall and what would that cost? What if you accept a large donation after the time frame, how would you incorporate that recognition into your display? Keep in mind that inadequate recognition can lead to offended donors and donor-fatigue for future projects.
If your display will be very short term, try something simple with construction paper on a wall. For a child-related fundraiser or even to thank volunteers, you could create a “Wall Aboard” wherein each train car is the name of a donor or volunteer.
For more of a mid-term DIY donor wall idea, think again to the mission or theme of your fundraiser. Perhaps you have six months to recognize donors and volunteers from your walk-a-thon. To save cost, as part of the walk, have volunteers donate a pair of socks. Then, recognize your most special and valued donors by writing their name on each pair. Donate them to charity after the display is done.
If you have even more time to display your gratitude on a recognition wall, say 1 to 3 years, try this idea. Purchase floral wall decals that are semi permanent but easily removable. For the stems, have someone with excellent penmanship write each donor’s name.
Saying “Thank You” is the fun part of any project and there are an unlimited number of ways to do that with a donor wall. Follow these guidelines and you should have a smooth and rewarding experience recognizing your donors.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our Donor Wall Board on Pinterest!