Newsletter Archives

Donor Wall Planning

New: Architectural Donor Wall & Electronic Recognition Project Planning Guide - Edition 2.0 - PDF Download

A donor wall, recognition display, multimedia presentation or other similar initiative, should be a reflection of your nonprofit organization’s culture, vision and values. It should chronicle your organization’s history, celebrate achievements and provide dignified and distinctive recognition for donors, champions, volunteers, staff or others whose efforts have helped to further your organization’s mission, goals and accomplishments.

Bergen Donor Recognition Wall

A recognition display should be far more than a simple list of names – it should be a destination - a place where people can learn more about your organization and its accomplishments - where they can identify with your most heartfelt contributors – where they can experience emotion that makes them want to learn more - to become involved. Creating such an exhibit requires planning and imagination.

The following questions are designed to stimulate your imagination and help you plan the perfect donor wall or recognition display for your nonprofit organization. We would like this list to become a resource for all development professionals and welcome your feed back. If you have any suggestions or questions for the list below, please e-mail them to [email protected]. Thank you in advance!

Questions to consider when planning your recognition display


  • What message do you want to convey with your recognition display and/or multimedia presentation? Is your organization at the leading edge of research or is it more traditional and family oriented? Community oriented? Environmentally friendly? More art than science?
  • Is there an environmental, geographic or other highlight for which your region or community is known for? If so, should this highlight be integrated into the display’s message or visual presentation?
  • Is your donor wall part of a larger overall recognition program that includes special events, dedications, capital campaigns and/or specialized recognition?
  • Is there a specific theme or tag line associated with this project?
  • What target group are you reaching out to? What will they relate to?
  • If your institution has a long history, should you celebrate that rich history and elaborate on past accomplishments, or design the display as a springboard into the future? Or both?
  • What feeling do you hope visitors will experience when looking at the display and/or multimedia presentation?
  • Does your organization have a graphics standards manual? Donor wall companies will require electronic files of all logos, typography, trademarks, photos or other materials used in association with the organization’s visual identity. Do you have them?


  • What are the exact dimensions of the available space for the display?
  • Will the surrounding environment change in the foreseeable future?
  • What is on the reverse side of the display wall, and what is that wall made of?
  • What is the proximity of electrical, HVAC, cable, or other services?
    What are the area’s traffic flows, light sources, areas of congestion?
  • Do you have photos for your donor wall design company and/or the architects?
  • Will visitors be able to comfortably stop, view and interact with the display?
  • Are any colors, materials, coatings or other finishes absolutely NOT to be used?
  • What architectural or environmental regulations should be considered when developing your recognition display?


  • What are the goals and objectives for your recognition program in general?
  • What are the goals and objectives for this particular display?
  • What donor receives what recognition when and for what gift amounts?
  • Do you have acknowledgement and recognition policies and procedures for this display?
  • What types and amounts of gifts will you encourage for this display?
  • Will you be using this display to cultivate more major gifts in the future?
  • Will you be using this display to increase donor interest and retention?
  • Will you be using this display to encourage gifts to a capital campaign?

Content Considerations for Donor Walls and Recognition Displays

  • Who will check to make sure the donor wants their name displayed on the wall?
  • How will donors indicate the way they want their names listed?
  • Who will check and verify the spelling of donor names?
  • Is specialized content required? If so who will decide on it and develop it?
  • Will you offer a naming opportunity for the display?
  • Will your organization be providing all of the text, images, video, or other materials?
  • Do you have all of your content in an appropriate electronic format?

Content for Donor Walls

  • Will your display feature a timeline of events?
  • What type of imagery will best enhance your mission and values?
  • How many giving categories will be represented on the wall?
  • How many names will be listed in each category?
  • Will the names be organized alphabetically or otherwise?
  • Will donors in higher giving categories be featured more prominently?
  • How frequently do you intend to update the display?
  • How frequently do you intend to update donor names?
  • Will donors be moved from one giving category to another in the future?
  • How can names be added, deleted or moved from one category to another?
  • How many names in each category do you expect to update?
  • Will additional giving categories be added in the future?
  • Are there other areas of the display that need regular updates?
  • Will you have a special section on the display for major donor(s)?

Content for Multimedia

  • Will you be adding or integrating an electronic component into the display in the future?
  • If so, will you be using a plasma display, LCD screen, kiosk, or all three?Would you like your electronic multimedia presentation to be self cycling or interactive?
  • Will your multimedia presentation feature audio, video, text, photos, donor lists, donor stories and profiles, historical timelines and achievements, Board members, special project overviews, giving options and ideas?
  • Will there be a separate multimedia presentation featuring a major donor?
  • Have you considered other modules or section ideas for the multimedia presentation?
  • Are all modules required for the initial presentation, or will some be added later?
  • Which content modules will you want to manage yourself? (Note: Content that will not change frequently, such as Board member names and photos, or historical information, should likely be programmed hard-coded, saving you unnecessary programming costs.)
  • Have you considered accepting electronic donations at your display?
  • Will your electronic component be self-standing or integrated into the display?
  • Are there other displays or walls in your organization that this display should compliment?
  • Will the multimedia presentation be self-cycling or interactive (touch-screen)?
    What degree of interactivity do you want visitors to experience when they navigate the presentation?
  • Do you require a printer with your display?


  • Have you established a budget for initial design, fabrication and installation?
  • How often will you need to update the display - weekly, monthly, yearly?
  • What areas of the display will need to be changed on a regular basis?
  • What areas of the display will only need to be changed occasionally?
  • What will it cost every time you update the display?
  • Have you established a budget for annual maintenance and updates?
  • What costs will be associated with the unveiling of display?
  • What are the costs of any special events coordinated with the unveiling?
  • What are the costs associated with marketing the display?

Due Diligence

  • Have you checked at least three of your donor wall vendor’s references?
  • Has your donor wall vendor built the type of display you are looking for in the past?
  • If an electronic component is included, can it be easily updated by section?
  • Can your donor wall vendor show you past installations and examples?


  • Have you established a budget and timeline for installation?
  • Will there be other activities taking place in the area during the installation?
  • Will you be installing the display or will your donor recognition company be doing it?
  • What pre-installation preparations are required?

Saying Thank You

  • How will you say thank you to donors at various levels of giving?
  • Who will be in charge of all donor information required to appropriately say thank you?
  • If thank you letters are being sent, who will draft the letters?
  • Who will write or sign the letters? Who will mail the thank you letters?
  • Who will coordinate follow up with donors and how?
  • Will major donors and donors in higher giving categories receive personal phone calls and/or additional recognition? Who will make the calls?
  • Who will record the contact information and correspondence?
  • Have you considered additional ideas that would help your organization distinguish itself from others with regards to recognition and acknowledgement?
  • Who will relay display updates to donors?


  • Are there any special events that can enhance the unveiling of your donor wall?
  • If part of a larger recognition program or capital campaign, have you chosen the most strategic date for the unveiling of the display?
  • Have you prepared a media list you can announce the new display to?
  • Have you prepared a press release to announce your donor wall to your media list?
  • Have you considered online press release submission?
  • Have you considered e-mail and Web site announcements?
  • Have you considered announcing your campaign and display to influential blog site owners?
  • Have you considered an in-house promotional plan to create awareness?
  • Have you considered a community-based promotional plan to create awareness?
  • Do you have a public relations person who can keep donors informed about publicity concerning the display?
  • Are you taking advantage of all promotional opportunities associated with your new display?

Donor Recognition Quality and Future Major Gifts

Recognition and acknowledgement are extremely valuable practices that directly influence donor relations and your ability to secure major gifts in the future. Recognition should never be considered as an afterthought or as an expense, but rather an investment in your future.

When developing a donor wall or recognition display, quality should be of utmost importance. If you compromise quality for cost, donors will notice and your recognition program will suffer. This will have a negative effect on your ability to develop new and current donors into long term prospects, and on your ability to solicit major gifts in the future.

Quality recognition counts.

Do you have a story to tell that would offer valuable insights to our subscribers? 
Would you like to be featured in our Community Ties Nonprofit Newsletter?

If you are a nonprofit development professional and would like to be interviewed for our Community Ties Nonprofit Newsletter, or if you have an interesting story that relates to donor recognition, donor walls, donor relations, stewardship, interactive technologies, nonprofit marketing or related nonprofit areas, that you think would be of interest to our readers, please e-mail us at [email protected].

We look forward to hearing from you!

We are very sorry for the inconvenience, but you are using an older version of Internet Explorer which is not supported on this Web site. To update to a more current version of Internet Explorer, please Click Here. Thank You.