I talk a lot about “donor forethought”, urging fundraisers to budget for a recognition wall in tandem with goal planning. A design that creates a portrait of your organization’s core identity will attract positive attention and help you raise funds. This one step enables a non-profit to use the design for the donor wall as a visual aid in raising funds.
Okay, but what if that boat was missed? You are in a campaign and it is stalled. What do you do? It turns out that this method can be used to re-energize a stalled campaign!
My client, Capital Caring, a hospice in the DC area, had been in a campaign for several years. They had reached their goal, but then the expenses came in higher than planned. On top of that, the Recession hit, and going back to their donors became much harder.
The design for the donor wall changed the conversation. By capturing the way stakeholders envision their community and Capital Caring’s role within it, the design revitalized the perception of the project.
Featured prominently at two big events, a business breakfast and the annual gala, it opened up new conversations and inspired increased support from both old and new donors.
The symbolism throughout the mural was directly inspired by thoughts and feelings shared at a brainstorming session with staff, board members and donors.
This process strengthened the linkage between the community’s passion for the Capital Caring’s mission and their willingness to provide the necessary funds.
The completed mural provides a vibrant, colorful welcome at the hospice foyer. Just today, Cheryl Wearing of Capital Caring told me, “I hear that everyone who comes into the center is awestruck with the beautiful tile wall! “
Call me today at 215-849-7010 to discuss your specific needs.
How have you dealt with a stalled campaign?
February is Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month, a campaign designed to encourage everyone to make significant change in our lives and our communities for a better tomorrow.
Establishing an endowment creates a permanent resource that makes a difference both for today and for generations to come.
Supporting an organization in perpetuity is like planting a seed that will provide long term prosperity and sustainability.
Funding an endowment is one of the most important philanthropic decisions for a donor and for those that it will benefit. Many endowment donors “test the water” with smaller gifts as they contemplate making larger gifts.
In the early 20th century, donor recognition consisted of lettering with the names of benefactors listed on engraved brass panels. Its fundamental purpose was to honor major financial contributors.
Mid-century, we saw an array of media in donor walls. These may be attractive in design, but most are still a list of names that is eventually ignored. At some point, someone realized that donor recognition might function as an incentive. The Tree of Life was born, encouraging donors to buy leaves. It works but not as well as it could. If you have seen one Tree of Life, you have seen them all. Its not personal.
I believe donors give for a reason. A personal reason. Our “fine art approach to fundraising” uses art to capture the core message and identity of an organization. Thus the donor wall is visually meaningful and speaks to the heart. Isn’t that what fundraising is all about?
Early planning of a donor wall, what I refer to as “donor forethought”, assures a return on investment. Keep in mind that “it costs money to raise money”. By following the recommended practice of budgeting 1 – 4% of a campaign goal for donor recognition, this cost is a minor line item for an essential part of the entire campaign process.
However, when people wait until the end (we call this “donor afterthought”), it is perceived as a major expense. Donor Forethought allows time for a well-conceived design that functions as a motivational tool. Let’s face it, people are visual. Previewing how gifts will be recognized in a permanent work of art is emotionally powerful and results in larger donations.
Once installed these motivational murals become silent fundraisers by attracting all to stop, look and ask,”how do I get on the wall?”
I have created inspiring donor walls for the past twenty-five years and I am very willing to share what I have learned. Give me a call today.
“Having the recognition program in place before solicitation really helped to sell our program. We raised $18.5 million and every single naming opportunity was taken for a new ER.”
Vice President of Development, Doylestown Hospital
From the AFP International Fundraising Conference in Boston earlier this year, Amy Eisenstein interviews Karen Singer, about donor recognition and stewardship.
Karen shares how to increase donor contributions by using the donor wall as a fundraising tool.
Upon completion of the donor wall, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School commissioned us to design and fabricate complementary room naming plaques and donor gifts.
We believe that when you have an image that resonates, keep using it. Reinforce the impact by reiterating the imagery. Think of the donor wall as a branding system. Use it on room naming plaques, promotion materials such as donor gifts, thank-you notes, annual reports, etc.
In Christianity, cherry trees symbolize the sweetness of character that derives from good works, encouraging the Good Counsel community to fall in love with service of God. The tree and its blossoms were chosen for the mural not only for symbolic meaning but also in recognition of the cherry tree that stood in the Senior Courtyard on the Wheaton campus.
A series of Naming Plaques are located at entryways throughout the performing arts center.
Donor Gifts including a cherry blossom tile and stand, and a set of watercolor note cards that were presented to donors at the dedication event.
Donor gifts that are displayed stimulate conversation, leading to the owner spreading word about the organization and their involvement. For this reason, we consider gifts like this an additional marketing and motivational tool.
Plus, sometimes the presentation of a truly thoughtful donor gift can lead to a stronger and deeper connection, inspiring increased giving.
Want us to find symbolic imagery for your organization? Call today: 215-849-7010
This 60 foot long ceramic tile mural forms the grand entry to the new Performing Arts Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD.
We believe donor recognition needs to be personal – to reflect the reason why people give to a specific cause.
This donor wall was inspired by the school’s five Xaverian values and culture expressed through symbolic meanings. The school successfully raised $10 million and credits our work as a major factor in meeting their goals.
Cherry trees are traditional symbols of sweetness of character derived by good works. The tree and its blossoms were chosen for the mural in recognition of the cherry tree that stood in the Senior Courtyard on the school’s original campus in Wheaton.
White Dogwoods have flower bracts that resemble the nails that held Jesus to the cross. The tree represents new life and new beginnings as it blooms in Spring around Easter. The trees and shrubs represent the passage of the seasons and signify the growth and transformation of the students.
Fir trees symbolize patience and outreach towards Heaven. They refer to the spiritual growth and faith formation nurtured and developed at Good Counsel.
Oak trees symbolize endurance in the face of adversity. Each Good Counsel student is challenged and nurtured in the pursuit of excellence.
“The donor wall is one of the most attractive I’ve seen. And I’ve seen plenty.”
Jerry Panas, Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners
Our newly installed latest and largest donor wall to date. This 60 foot long ceramic tile mural forms the grand entry to the new Performing Arts Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Ol…
Source: Donor Wall Symbolism
Our newly installed latest and largest donor wall to date. This 60 foot long ceramic tile mural forms the grand entry to the new Performing Arts Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD. The school successfully raised $10 million and credits our work as a major factor in meeting their goals.
“In Harmony, Small Things Grow,” is the motto of the Xaverian Brothers. The motto and the Brothers’ five spiritual values speak to the transformational growth at the heart of the Good Counsel student experience.
Simplicity is represented by the Virgin Mary cradling, Jesus. The depiction is modeled on a statue located at the front entrance of the school and for whom the school is named.
More to come………………………
Our largest project ever was dedicated on May 14th, 2016! “In Harmony, Small Things Grow”, a 60 foot long ceramic mural forms the grand entry to the new Performing Arts Center at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland.
Good Counsel came to us in 2012 before the silent phase of their campaign. Our challenge was to showcase the school’s values and culture in a meaningful work of art that would inspire increased giving. Our design materials formed the centerpiece of their campaign literature.
We were informed that the school has a reputation for athletic excellence that has overshadowed their equally top-notch academics, fine and performing arts. This campaign arose from the determination to give the performing arts the facilities and recognition they deserve.
The mural is structured around five arched “windows” each representing one of Good Counsel’s Xaverian values. Choosing the imagery for each value sparked a client-artist dialogue about the school’s core identity- past, present and future.
It was gratifying to see people’s reactions to the mural. It really seemed to WOW them. This comment sums it up. “You described to me what this wall would look like and even showed me pictures. But it is so breathtaking, and it is so much more than I imagined it would be. It’s beautiful, and I can’t wait for our names to be up there.“
The opening events featured orchestral, dance, vocal, and drama performances by students. Their professionalism and passion were truly impressive!
I cannot wait to continue to add donor names, and see how the students flourish in this amazing space!
The year 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of my company, Karen Singer Tileworks. Amazing how much has changed since 1991!
Then, as a sculptor, I saw making donor walls for non-profits as a way to create meaningful public art and get paid for it. Nothing wrong with this, but these days I have a very different perspective on what I do.
My focus now is on being a part of a fundraising team: creating an iconic portrait of my client’s identity at its core. Incredibly, this can actually increase giving!
As an artist, I design fine art donor walls for major gifts campaigns. But as a fundraiser, I create mission statement, motivational murals that inspire giving by attracting positive attention to the essence of what they do.
To my non-profit clients, their dedicated fundraising staff members, and the donors who support their causes, Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you for allowing me to spend twenty five years partnering with you on such meaningful work.
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