We all know that donor recognition is an essential part of any nonprofit organization's fundraising efforts. However, designing exterior recognition poses unique challenges, with variables such as wind, rain, snow, and UV rays to contend with.
Exterior donor recognition can make a significant first impression, reminding donors of the organization's commitment to and connection with the community. It is often one of the first things people see when visiting your organization. Placed in high-traffic areas and where people congregate for relaxation or reflection, exterior recognition offers a unique opportunity to put your culture of philanthropy front and center in the public eye.
How we experience donor recognition and the physical space surrounding it can affect our emotions and influence our decisions. What feeling will the person viewing your donor recognition have when they see it? When done correctly, donor recognition is a powerful tool that motivates others to support your mission and become part of your donor family.
We want to share a few of our favorite exterior plaque systems and donor walls.
When considering materials for exterior plaque systems, engraved, etched, or sandblasted stainless steel is a reliable way to go. Metal is the predominantly used material because of its endurance. Wood, tile, stone, and other graphic materials also work beautifully outdoors when the correct treatments are applied to keep the recognition from fading or degrading due to constant exposure to different weather conditions.
Outdoor donor recognition doesn’t have to be boring! One of our favorite materials to work with is fused art glass. It is durable in the elements and allows for greater creative flexibility. You can create vibrant colors and embed content and imagery into the glass.
Exterior donor walls are a great way to connect donors to the results of their giving. When you publicly share how meaningful those gifts are to your organization, you strengthen the relationship with your donors and open new doors for others to follow in their footsteps.
Like plaque systems found outdoors, exterior donor walls need special considerations and materials to endure the elements. Updatability can be more challenging for outdoor donor walls due to the need for durability and permanence; however, planning for the future during the conceptual design phase helps alleviate this issue.
Remember to consider exterior donor recognition as part of your thorough fundraising and stewardship plan. Like your interior recognition, adding donor walls and plaque systems in your gardens, on your benches, along your pathways, and outside your entrances increases the number of available naming opportunities. If it is visible and accessible to the public, there is potential for donor recognition value.
Working with landscape architects early in the process is ideal if you’re undergoing new construction. Necessary lighting, powerlines, concrete pads, and other accommodations can be planned out in advance. This will help the recognition look and feel more integrated.