Donor Recognition Walls, Plaques, & Signs: Ultimate Guide

What’s a Donor Recognition Wall?

donor recognition wall is a wall that displays the names of all the donors who participated in a particular campaign. The wall can take many creative forms depending on the campaign. Donor recognition walls can display a lot of names, so they are most often installed after a large capital campaign. Walls are usually permanent installations, though digital walls can be updated often.

What’s a Donor Recognition Sign?

Similarly to a donor recognition wall, a donor recognition sign often lists the names of donors who contributed to a particular campaign. A sign is usually portable, printed on a plastic or vinyl banner instead of metal or brick. As such, donor recognition signs are better choices for charity walks and other off-site or outdoor sponsored events as opposed to building campaigns.

What’s a Donor Recognition Plaque?

When an individual, organization, or small group of individuals are the sole or major donors to a particular campaign, they could be honored with a donor recognition plaque. Plaques are often posted outside doors in buildings that a major contribution helped build. Donors could also take their plaques home with them if you don’t have anywhere permanent to house them.

Note

Run a Profitable Capital Campaign! Grab our 14-Step Guide to Running a Successful Capital Campaign.

Why are donor recognition walls, plaques, and signs effective?

Donor recognition walls are effective for showing your appreciation.
  • They show donor appreciation.

    A key element of good donor stewardship is showing your supporters you appreciate their contributions. An easy way to celebrate your donors is to post their names in a public place where everyone can see them!

  • They build a legacy.

    A wall, sign, or plaque will stick around for a long time, sometimes as long as the building is still standing. This long-term show of appreciation speaks to donors, especially those leaving planned gifts to your organization.

  • They inspire others to give.

    It’s not just your past donors who see your walls, signs, and plaques — prospective donors see them, too, as they walk by or scroll by them online. Seeing the public commendation a donation receives will encourage others to give!

When should donors be recognized on walls, signs, and plaques?

Major Gifts

Your major donors certainly deserve to have their name posted somewhere prominent. But besides just deserving it, they might even expect it. It’s not uncommon to offer to name a certain hallway or room, for instance, after a donor whose major gift helped build it.

Planned Gifts

Planned gifts are often among the largest that a nonprofit receives, so planned givers should definitely be included in donor recognition walls, signs, and plaques. Offering prominent placement of their name can even encourage some donors to leave planned gifts.

In-Kind Donations

Don’t forget your in-kind donors! Especially if you’re hosting an event, you likely received some form of in-kind donation from a sponsor, such as a venue, equipment, or staffing. You can specify the kind of donation you received on your donor recognition wall, sign, or plaque.

Capital Campaigns

Capital campaigns are usually the longest and highest-earning endeavors you will undertake. If you raised money to construct or renovate a building, you’ve got a place to post your donor recognition wall, sign, or plaque permanently.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

Donor recognition doesn’t have to be a purely tangible affair. When fundraising through a crowdfunding campaign, you can post your donor recognition wall, sign, and plaques online! Many crowdfunding websites offer this feature built-in.

Sponsorships

Individuals aren’t the only ones that donate to your fundraising campaigns. Chances are you rely on sponsorships for some of your revenue, too. Don’t forget to thank companies and organizations that sponsor your events or contribute to your campaigns!

Which elements should you include on donor recognition walls, signs, and plaques?

Include the name of your campaign, your donor, and the amount of their donation on your donor recognition plaque.
  • The name of the fundraising campaign.

  • The donor’s preferred name and title.

  • The gift amount (optional).

  • The organization’s name and logo.

  • The timeframe of the gift.

  • The name of the award (if specified).

What should donor recognition walls, signs, and plaques say?

When deciding what to write on your donor recognition walls, signs, and plaques, aim for grateful language and highlight your donors, not your own efforts.

Remember, the purpose of plaques is to reward your current donors and encourage prospective donors to give to future campaigns.

Think about phrases like

  • “Donated in honor of her grandmother, Sarah.”
  • “Made possible by the generosity of Jenna Smith and her family.”
  • “In recognition of the charitable spirit of Matt Jones.”
When wording your donor recognition sign, keep the focus on the donor and your appreciation for them.
When wording your donor recognition sign, keep the focus on the donor and your appreciation for them.

What are some common styles of donor recognition walls, signs, and plaques?

Glass

Glass donor recognition walls are great for permanent installations.

If you’re looking for a clean, classic way to show your appreciation for your donors, glass is a great choice. Glass walls and plaques are not as portable as other materials might be, so you might want to use glass for capital campaign donors who helped build a new building or other stationary object. Just make sure your glass wall is in a safe place, away from children or machinery that could break it!

Digital

Implement a digital donor recognition wall if you want to be able to update it frequently.

What if you want to keep a running tally of your donors and their donation amounts, incorporating a little healthy competition into your donor recognition wall? What if you want to use your wall for more than one campaign? By installing a digital donor recognition wall, you can! Though it might be more expensive in the short term, you can reuse a digital wall much more easily than more permanent materials.

Brick

Brick donor recognition walls are symbolic to your donors.

When organizing a capital campaign for a building, especially for a school or hospital, a sentimental way to recognize your donors is with brick. The symbolism is obvious: your donors are the building blocks to your success. You could make an entire donor recognition wall or sidewalk out of brick or post plaques on individual bricks for your donors to take home with them.

Note

Run a Profitable Capital Campaign! Grab our 14-Step Guide to Running a Successful Capital Campaign.

Additional Donor Recognition Resources

How to Ask for Donations

You can only create donor recognition walls for supporters who contribute to your campaigns!

Before you can celebrate your donors’ contributions to your campaign, you need to ask them to donate!

Write the perfect donation solicitation to encourage participation in your fundraising campaigns.

Top Donor Management Software

Keep track of information for your donor recognition sign in your donor management software.

You’ll need a way to track who donates at which level before you can put together donor recognition materials.

Find the perfect nonprofit donor management software to keep your donor data organized after your campaign ends.

Best Crowdfunding Websites

Donor recognition plaques are great perks to offer during crowdfunding campaigns.

You can offer inclusion on your donor recognition wall as a perk of your crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t host your campaign on any old website — consult our list of the top crowdfunding sites first!

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