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:
- Are your donors important?
- Is your project important?
- Is your organization important?
If 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.
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.
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.
Once you ask the question the answer may seem obvious – Of course location matters! Celebrating donors and marketing to future donors is what donor walls are all about. In the past donor walls were looked at as memorials and they were built to look like headstones. It didn’t matter where you placed them, because no one ever looked at them.
Donor recognition walls are now a piece of art and through environmental design, they can add to the space. Just like a well placed painting or sculpture a donor wall invites closer inspection and should inspire people to give.