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Tips for Designing a Donor Wall to Fit your Cause

One of the more fun projects Motivational Systems gets to be a part of are donor recognition walls or installations. Donor recognition is important to show your donors love and to motivate current and potential donors to give more. When working with your designer to design your donor recognition, use these tips for an effective installation:

Decide how many donor levels/categories you are going to have. This is one of the most important steps in designing your donor wall since the entire design is most likely dependent on your donor levels. If you have a design with 5 donor levels and want to add even 1 extra level, that can completely change the design and can end up costing you more money. Donor levels can be defined by color, shape, size and/or text.

This National City Library Donor Wall designates donor level by color.

Have a goal of how many donors you want. Although you may not know how many donors you will have, you should set out a goal to design around.

Consider the future. Designing the wall to be able to add to will help future-proof it. You ideally will want to leave space in the design for additional donors. This could be through blank “tiles” or through the design itself, making it easy to add donors at any time. When considering adding more donors, consult with the designers and fabricators to determine how you will order additional names. The best designs are the designs that can grow.

An oldie by a goodie. This South Bay YMCA wall left plenty of room for a growing list of legacy donors (and they got plenty more!).

Be creative with the design. The design should inspire passerbyers to view the installation and in turn motivate them to want to give to your cause. Whether it’s through bright colors, sophisticated finishes, or 3-D shapes, a more visually pleasing wall will have a greater impact.

Beach-inspired Donor Wall at the Imperial Beach Public Library

Have the design be relevant to your cause. When the design is relevant to what the foundation does, it helps build your story. Another option is to design the wall around the community atmosphere. For example, the Imperial Beach Library donor wall pictured above isn’t library-related, but it fits in with the beach community and builds a sense of togetherness.

Another YMCA oldie. This wall clearly shows that kids are important to their cause. This was a simple, yet effective design.


Choose durable materials. If you plan on your donor wall being around for quite some time, you will want to consider durable materials for less maintenance. Consult your designer and fabrication team to choose the most durable material for your design.

The National City Public Library went with a more upscale look using the words, “Turning the Page to the Future” to tie in the library.

We hope these tips have helped to inspire your next donor installation design. To see more donor walls and other work, visit our website at www.motivational.com.