Introducing an electronic recognition display requires careful planning, not just to ensure that the project meets all your budgetary and timeline objectives, but to also be certain that it remains a relevant and engaging destination at your organization for years to come. Using the following important points as a guide will help make sure that your display is a compelling showcase of your achievements and a powerful and engaging statement of thanks to your supporters.
1 Are you ready for electronic recognition?
An electronic recognition display is a departure from the typical static donor wall many of your constituents may be familiar with, so communicating the benefits of touch screen or self-cycling multimedia is important. As you can appreciate, the more that people (read: potential donors) know about your organization’s history, achievements and mission, the more inclined they will be to support your vision and goals. Electronic recognition gives you the opportunity to tell your story in ways a static donor wall never can, along with the ability to be updated and refreshed as frequently as you wish.
The first thing you need is a project leader, someone who will shepherd all phases of the development from start to completion, and will act as a liaison between the organization and the recognition vendor. Choose someone with good organizational skills, who can communicate with all the internal and external stakeholders and, above all, someone who has the time necessary to steward this initiative properly.
2 Location, Location, Location!
As with retail and restaurants, location is everything, and the same holds true for recognition displays. You want to be sure that your electronic presentation is going to be seen by as many people as possible, so choosing the right location is critical. However, you also don’t want to create more congestion by mounting it in a hallway or on a stairway where visitors stopping to view the display may impede other traffic. The perfect site is one that allows visitors to stop and view the presentation without interrupting other visitors or affecting the normal workflow of that area.
3 Content Is King!
The degree to which visitors will be informed and inspired by your electronic recognition display is influenced in large measure by the type and quality of content in the presentation. With both touch screen or self-cycling multimedia, less is more. The purpose of your multimedia presentation is to share your stories and history, honor donors and promote upcoming initiatives, but brevity is the key to successful communication. Most of your visitors will only spend 10-15 minutes at any one time reviewing your material so you want to keep videos brief (30-45 seconds), keep copy to one screen, if possible, and limit bios and profiles to 500-600 words. Ideally, the goal is to have visitors contact the Foundation office for more information after they’ve viewed the multimedia presentation.
4 Touch Screen or Self-Cycling?
Sometimes the decision to go with a self-cycling presentation vs a touch screen presentation is purely subjective, but more often than not it’s a function of physical location as well as the type of content being presented.
From a physical location standpoint, those organizations that opt for a self-cycling presentation do so because the available space will not enable visitors to easily interact with a touch screen. Either the screen has to be mounted high on a wall or viewing space is too limited so having a self-cycling presentation where content simply loops through on one or more presentation panels is often the best option. Conversely, the type of content you want to present might be more suited to a self-cycling presentation, such as a scrolling list of donors, a series of transitioning donor profiles, upcoming events, etc. The disadvantage to a self-cycling presentation is that because the content presents as a continuous loop, viewers must wait for the content they’re interested in to appear as opposed to a touch screen display where they can choose the content they wish to view.
5 Integrated or Self-Standing?
Again, the choice here may be dictated by aesthetics or by necessity. If you’re installing an architectural donor wall, a great way to enhance it as you increase traffic and enjoyment is by adding an LCD monitor with a touch or self-cycling multimedia presentation. However, if you place your multimedia presentation on a self-standing kiosk, you’ll give your organization a valuable outreach marketing tool because kiosks can be transportable. That means that, with the aid of a custom designed transport case, your kiosk presentation can be taken to galas, golf tournaments, shopping centers, alumni events or other locations to present your message. In particular, organizations without a highly visible location can use self-standing kiosks as a very effective way to have their message reach their constituency.
6 Web Site Integration?
One of the best ways to enhance the exposure of your electronic recognition display is to make it accessible on your organization’s website. Ordinarily, visitors will only see your multimedia presentation when they’re at your hospital, university or other facility, or on a touch screen kiosk in the community. However, by making all or parts of the presentation available on your web site, you’re now able to reach out to the global community, reconnecting with expatriate community members and allowing them to stay connected with your organization as contributors and supporters.
7 How Do You Select A Vendor?
Like anything else choosing the right vendor for an electronic recognition display requires some due diligence. Following are a list of questions you should ask each of your prospective vendors to ensure that you’re properly comparing (multimedia) apples to apples!
- Do they have experience working with non-profit organizations?
- Is designing and manufacturing donor walls and recognition displays with multimedia presentations their core business?
- Will they be doing the design and programming of the multimedia presentation themselves or will they be subcontracting to a second vendor?
- Can they provide specific project examples and references for projects that they have developed that incorporate interactive and/or self cycling multimedia?
- Are they a one-stop shop? Can they design and fabricate the display? Can they design and integrate the multimedia presentation?
- Do they have in-house writers and multimedia designers to assist with content creation?
- Can they guide you through a content development process which might include text, graphics, video, photographs, audio, archived information, storyboarding and multimedia layout?
- Are they knowledgeable with regards to the different types of multimedia display hardware options?
- Do they have experience setting up, monitoring and supporting remote networks?
- What is their data base structure? Is it scaleable and able to handle an unlimited number of records and search queries?
- What is their record of back-up and restoration capability?
- Do they provide an image of the most recent version of the multimedia presentation and data base, and how quickly can it be replicated?
- Do they have experience working with the various types of lighting required for different displays and locations?
- Do they have experience working with donor management software?
- What is their system’s security protocol? How is the system locked down?
- On interactive multimedia presentations can the client measure visitor usage, areas visited, times of visits, etc?
- What reporting procedure does the system employ?
- How is content management handled? Can it be done remotely from the client’s computer or does it require a technical visit to the system’s PC? Does it require information to be forwarded to the vendor’s facility where it must be burned to a CD or DVD and then sent back to the client, who must then upload it manually to the system?
- What ongoing monitoring system does the vendor have in place to continually check on the system’s performance and address any issues that may present themselves?
- Are they capable of integrating all or part of the multimedia presentation with the client’s Web site?
- Can they answer the technical questions posed by your IT professionals, architects and engineers?
8 How Will You Handle Day-To-Day Content Updates?
Keeping your electronic recognition display informative and relevant depends on the quality and currency of your content. That means that, in addition to adding new donors or moving donor names to new gift categories, you also need to ensure that the information, videos and photographs you feature represent your most recent announcements, achievements and initiatives. That way, visitors get the most up-to-date information and will keep coming back, knowing that what they’re looking at is always new and exciting.
To ensure that information remain's current you’ll need to task a staff person with the job of updating information as it becomes available. This should be a regularly scheduled assignment, once a week or bi-weekly, but always updated consistently and in a timely manner.
9 Make Your Message Known!
Your electronic or architectural recognition display may be the most beautiful and innovative presentation ever, but if nobody knows it exists or if no one has a sense of what they’ll be able to see and do there, it’s of little value. To ensure that your recognition project gets the exposure and awareness you want, follow these steps:
- As soon as the project is at the point where you can develop a detailed concept drawing of the display, use the concept images in news releases, in your newsletter, on your website and in other marketing or capital campaign materials to begin to generate excitement and anticipation among prospective donors, corporate supporters and other constituents.
- Provide updates on the project’s development to ensure it enjoys top-of-mind awareness among staff, donors and others in the community.
- Develop a high profile unveiling event when the display is completed, inviting donors, local community and political leaders, organization leadership, local and regional media and others to celebrate the event.
- As soon as the display is available to the public launch an awareness blitz that will include items such as: table tent cards in the cafeterias and lunch rooms; posters in the staff lounge; inserts in bills and correspondence; stories in your e-Newsletter; news releases; media tours; etc.
10 Complete The Planned Legacy
Recognition Project Planning Guide!
Some would say that this should be Step #1 but, whatever you do, don’t move ahead with any donor wall or electronic recognition display without first completing this comprehensive document. Carefully researched and based on experience that comes from designing and installing displays for organizations of all sizes and budgets all over North America, this Guide features over 100 pertinent questions that will help you and your team to plan the type of recognition project that suits your budget, organizational culture, message and mission.
To access the Recognition Project Planning Guide online go to:
Good luck with your project!! For more information contact: