Can A Donor Wall Update Increase Donations?

Can A Donor Wall Update Increase Donations?

003The ongoing battle with donor walls is designing something that brings in more donations.  Donor walls can always be beautiful, but do they do more than recognize previous donors, do they inspire. Recently we were asked to update a donor wall for a hospital birthing center that over 10 years had not received more than 20 donations.  The original donor wall consisted of engraved Corian tiles and a small panel with a poem about a baby.  It was not clear that this was a donor wall.  The donor wall blended into the wallpaper and the poem was confusing.  Most guests thought it was a list of babies that died.

The hospital wanted to use the existing structure and wanted something people would notice and give a clear message.  We began by replacing the Corian tiles with panels that were easily updated, added a new message to the poem panel and a three dimensional title.  Simple changes that didn’t cost much, but made the donor wall stand out and give a clear message as to the reason for the donor wall.

Within two days, they had gained donors.  Something the wall hadn’t done in years.

Can anyone design donor walls?

Can anyone design donor walls?

The simple answer to the question “Can anyone design donor walls?” is No, but you are probably wondering why you can’t have your best friends daughter, who is a graphic design major, design your donor wall. It’s free, right!  What could be better.  You need to ask yourself the following questions:good 1-web

  •   Are your donors important?
  •   Is your project important?
  •   Is your organization important?

Northern Illinois Food Bank KioskIf you answer yes to these questions, than you need to hire a design firm that has experience in donor wall design. Experienced donor wall designers have knowledge of ADA requirements, engineering, and large format dimensional design. Most have a degree in graphic design, interior design or architecture, but the industry is finally beginning to embrace the true field of donor wall design – environmental design or experiential design. Many design firms are advertising jobs as environmental design or experiential design for this reason. Still confused? Recently, we were contacted by a design firm that wants us to build a donor wall they designed, which we are happy to do.  The design has donor name plates less than 10″ from the floor, think about that for a moment; would you put your donor names that low on a wall, or better yet, if your a donor, would you want your name that close to the floor. Experienced donor wall designers always consider readability height, size of copy and how far the display will project into the space. If you hire an experienced donor wall design firm, you eliminate the need to consider all the variables that come with a large display. No concerns for stability, readability or longevity.  You only have to focus on your donors.

Donor Recognition Signs Beyond the Cookie-Cutter

Donor Recognition Signs Beyond the Cookie-Cutter

LegendCloseDonor recognition signs don’t have to be plaques and lists of names that look more like tombstones than a celebration of giving. Donor walls made up of engraved blocks and printed lists are the most common and easiest to build, but do they really represent all the hard work and effort that went into your giving campaigns? Donor walls should not be an after thought, but a part of your campaign budget. Donor walls should catch attention and engage people to give. Donor walls are a great opportunity to express your vision and mission through visual artwork and promote your campaigns. Donor walls with lists can be special just by adding personal photos. Your donors want to feel special and you have an obligation to make that happen.Donor wall_Jones County Fair
How to begin:

  • Look at a companies portfolio
  • Interview former clients
  • Interview the company

Find a company you are comfortable in working with and tell them what you are envisioning. Any company that is willing to give away their designs to get the build, is going to give you a stock design that is off the shelf. If you want something original, you will pay for design and in the end get something you can be proud of and is original to you. You probably think, it is going to cost a lot more, but when you compare prices, you will be surprised. Donor walls don’t have to be boring once you see them as artwork. Presentations custom designs and builds every display with an artistic eye and quality engineering. We consider the space, architecture and the purpose of the client and the campaign. Sometimes we recommend painting the wall or design custom wallpaper to be background for the donor wall. Presentations donor walls are not cookie-cutter versions of the same thing over and over, but special for you.

What to know when planning a Donor Recognition Wall?

Ten Donor Wall Planning Tips

Plan Early
The time to think about donor recognition isn’t when you’re planning the celebration party. Include a recognition wall display cost in your total fundraising effort and be sure to integrate the design into your architectural and signage program.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep
In the throes of raising funds, different promises are often made to different people – some impossible to keep. Begin by setting guidelines on how gifts will be recognized on the donor wall.

Head off anomalies, but design for variables
Hospitals, churches and care facilities often receive “in loving memory of” gifts. To control the variability of these listings, provide criteria for how such gifts can be stated on the recognition display. At the same time, plan typography for the longest and shortest naming scenarios.

Decide between a finite campaign or living donor wall
Designers need to know the maximum number of donor names that will likely appear before beginning concept development. If the wall is for a single capital campaign, set a firm deadline for inclusion, so names can be alphabetized and placed into donation categories. Design living walls to remain aesthetically pleasing at any stage and be sure to place them in locations that will allow for growth.

Allocate a percentage of the budget
Set aside a percentage of the total building budget for the donor wall construction. Avoid the appearance of overspending, but keep in mind that attractive walls make donors feel appreciated and encourage others to give in the future.

Complement the architecture
Even when a donor wall is treated as stand-alone art, designers need to work closely with the architect, lighting engineer and signage designers. The finished piece should feel integral to the environment and complement the proportions, materials, finishes and colors of the space.

Maintain type consistency
Don’t try to list names in type sizes equivalent to the size of the donations. Color-coding is a common way of protecting typographic consistency.

Consider future fabrication
Make sure that materials and craftsmanship are available and can be matched five, 10, 15 years hence.

Consider daily upkeep of the donor wall
Take weather resistance, vandalism and maintenance into account before approving the design and location.

Proofread, then proofread again.
Imagine etching 1000 names on a single sheet of glass and finding a typo that will remain into perpetuity. Check with donors about unusual name spellings, then assign several people to proofread at every stage of the process.

Creating Engaging Content for your Digital Donor Wall

Creating Engaging Content for your Digital Donor Wall

Northern Illinois Food Bank KioskCongratulations! You made the decision to enter the world of digital signage. You purchased the necessary hardware and got it installed. You plug it in, turn it on and nothing…where is the content? Unlike television, digital signage doesn’t come with preprogrammed channels full of content, this needs to be designed and then formatted to work with your hardware and updated frequently.

The first step to creating engaging content is to focus on two questions:

What do you want it to do?

Who is your audience?

The second step is to hire a graphic designer that has experience creating digital content templates in the correct formats. The templates will give you the layout of your pages and the flow of your information, including the correct placement of interactive buttons and widgets to meet ADA requirements all with branding that identifies with your organization and your audience. Once you have these original templates you can make changes to different areas of the templates.

Some of the digital signage media players come with editors, ready to create your own content, and are based on their own proprietary software. The editors are varied and the learning curve can be more than you are willing to tackle. Because of our own experience with third party players, we have created ARREYA, a digital signage software complete with user-friendly editor that doesn’t rely on hardware and is completely cloud-based. Whatever you decide, do your research and pick one that allows you to create the content you want and is easy for the people that will be doing the updates.

You can buy the most expensive hardware, but without engaging and well-designed content, you just wasted your money.

For more information about ARREYA Digital Signage Suite or to try the FREE trial, go to or call 319-294-6671


Digital Donor Signage made Easy with ARREYA Software

Digital Donor Signage made Easy with ARREYA Software

UP_BlankChildrenHosp_WEBArreya_PressImageYou have heard it all, digital signage systems claiming to use the latest technology, touchscreen friendly and easy, simple, quick content editors that can handle anything.

Don’t be fooled by all the digital signage systems that are claiming they deliver the moon. With all the new technology hitting the arena, everyone is scrambling to be the first to incorporate it all and will tell you they can. How do you wade through the muck and find what really works and more importantly works for you?

Start at the beginning, write a digital content outline mapping out what you want on your digital signage and most importantly, who do you want it to reach. Is it a multi-page touchscreen or do you just want a simple revolving slideshow? Do you only want one monitor that hangs in your lobby or do you want your content to be viewable and interactive with all of your employees or anyone who wants to see it. Then after you have figured out your content and your audience, do some research for a company that fits your needs and is reliable. If you have seen a digital sign you like, talk to the marketing or facilities people that probably had the task of getting it done.

Ask questions about the company that sold the system:

• Did they use a third party vendor
• What was the initial expense
• Can they allow you to do the content editing or do they
• How much do they charge for content editing
• What is the yearly upgrade charge
• How do they handle service
• How reliable is the system

Digital signage is complicated to most of us, but by knowing what you want at the start and researching recommendations you will get what you want, avoid the companies that can’t give you what you want and spend only what you need too.

Jill Burgess, President ARREYAtm digital signage software

Embracing the World of Digital Donor Walls

Embracing the World of Digital Donor Walls

Digital Donor Walls is the fastest growing segment of the donor wall market. If you are looking at a new donor wall, you are probably looking at digital along with static donor walls.  Keep in mind that static is 1/3 the cost of the digital donor wall and once you install the static wall, other than maybe some name updates, it is complete and you don’t have to think about it for a while.  Digital donor walls are a great addition and really engage donors to give, but they need to be updated on a regular schedule showcasing new donors, new events, awards, video and anything else you can think of to engage visitors and perspective donors.  It is not worth the money if you are not planning on any updates. The remote updates is what makes digital donor walls worth the money.  Just like a website you can make it anything you want, add anything you want and combine it with marketing or informational kiosks that everyone will want to see.TH_Donor_Wall_6_WEB

What I’m saying is don’t go into digital thinking it is just like static walls or just because it is the latest thing. Be prepared to embrace it for the long term, it will be worth the money if done correctly and with a reliable company who does it all in-house. If you contract with a vendor who subcontracts the digital, you will not be able to find the subcontractor when something goes wrong. Do your research, ask for references and check them. There are a lot of companies claiming to do digital, but just like shopping for a tablet or phone, pick what works for you and a reliable company that will be there for the future.



Is Price the Only Thing That Matters?

In the case of gasoline prices the answer is yes, but when designing a display that honors your organization or donors do you want to go cheap? A cheap display with no visual indication of your story or corporate brand will deter donors from giving and project an unsure atmosphere within your organization.

Let’s say you are planning on spending $8000 on your donor recognition, but you find a company that will give you the design, and build it for $4000. Wow! What savings, but the design is a tile wall you have seen in 100 other organizations, is too big for the space you had planned and six months later someone destroys one of the naming tiles and you can’t get a hold of the company to replace it. You have just wasted $4000 and need to start over.

Shop for the four things that mean more than price, and in the end make you money:

  1. Customer service
  2. Quality design that speaks of your organization
  3. Quality, durable construction
  4. Credible company

What to do with “redundant” naming plaques on donor recognition walls?

Our hospital has undergone major renovations, resulting in re-location of a number of services.   In some areas there are plaques dating back many years,  recognizing gifts of donors to a specific service  (eg. – pediatrics or endoscopy.)   We call these “dedication plaques”.  What is a good policy for removing donor plaques.

A  Foundation’s foremost concern is the appropriate recognition of our donors’ generosity.  From time to time,  modifications,  renovations, or changes to an area’s use may require adjustments in a naming opportunity.

1. If a space undergoes minor renovations and the purpose of the space remains substantially the same, then any original naming designation will remain in place.

2. When a space undergoes a significant renovation or change in purpose, or the designated program ceases to exist or experiences a dramatic change in its needs, the Foundation will discuss options with the naming and lead donors (or their survivors) to that structure or program. Options for the naming opportunity may include, but are not limited to,  continuing the naming opportunity with modification,  moving the naming opportunity to a new or comparable, existing space, or altering the size of the space assigned to the naming opportunity.

3. When the useful life of a facility ends or the function supported by a gift ends or moves out, the Foundation will discuss options with the naming and lead donors involved or their survivors.  Among the options will be those outlined above and the opportunity for donors to fund new construction of a new area or major renovation to a fully reconfigured area in order to sustain the original naming opportunity.   Whatever the donors’ decision, the Foundation may move recognition of original gifts to a permanent plaque or similar structure elsewhere in the hospital to continue honoring past gifts.  A Living History wall or Legacy Display in the Hospital is currently under consideration as a way to perpetuate the recognition of donors whose named areas have been removed.

4. The naming of a building by a donor will extend for the life of the building.  In the event the named building is demolished, the donor is entitled to recognition for a minimum of thirty (30) years.  If the named building is razed in fewer than 30 years, the Foundation will arrange with the donor and/or the donor’s family to select a comparable area.  If the named building is demolished after a period of 30 or more years, the Foundation will not be obligated to continue the naming recognition.

Is donor recognition marketing?

Okay, you raised the money, the hard work is done, now put the names on a plaque and move on to the next fund raiser.  Is this how you view donor recognition?  If it is, your missing a great opportunity to make your job easier and to gain more donors without solicitation.  Deep down everyone wants to see their name in lights and a thoughtfully designed donor recognition display will entice people to give, just to see their name on the display.

Recently, someone told me a donor wall we created is referred to as the Holy Spirit.  It was great to hear that the donor display has taken on a new life and people are impassioned by the design.

If your donor recognition looks like a tombstone, you are probably missing the mark.  Give the potential donor something that catches their attention and speaks to your vision and mission.  A true extension of your marketing.