Not your Grandfather’s Donor Recognition
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