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

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Our Recommended Donor Recognition Wall Agency

Eleven Fifty Seven

Overview

Eleven Fifty Seven designs and builds custom donor recognition walls to celebrate your supporters and your purpose.

Their team has served thousands of institutions seeking to thank their donors in a unique and meaningful way.

The Process

The Eleven Fifty Seven team provides guidance and expertise through every step of the process. From the initial idea to thoughtful designs to the finished product, their team will collaborate with you to create something truly meaningful.

Here’s how their process works:

  1. Strategy and planning. The first phase involves an exploration of your nonprofit’s needs and processes. The EFS team will go through an onsite discovery and space planning process to assess physical requirements as well as understand your team’s recognition strategy and internal planning tools. Their client-focused approach centers your mission and your donors to develop the best plan possible.
  2. Creative development. Through on-site and virtual brainstorming sessions and conversations with your team, Eleven Fifty Seven develops the entire look and feel of your donor recognition wall. With years of creative experience, they can work with a concept you have in mind or forge a unique and innovative vision. Their talented designers handle the graphic design and structural design of your display, as well as any interactive recognition elements.
  3. Building and implementation. The team handles the entire process of creating your donor recognition wall. EFS does all the fabrication in-house, as well as project management and installation. If you’re creating a digital display, they also provide IT support and training.
Show appreciation for your supporters with a donor recognition wall from Eleven Fifty Seven.

Why We Love It

Their friendly, knowledgeable team has the creative power you need to honor your donors and tell the story of your mission. Whether you’re looking to create a traditional donor recognition display or think beyond the wall, Eleven Fifty Seven can help you do it.

Check out Eleven Fifty Seven's website to learn more about their donor recognition walls.

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.

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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