If you’re a nonprofit organization, building sustainable relationships with donors and continually expanding your donor base provides the lifeline to funding your initiatives. Recognition for donors is an important way to solidify your relationship with those who make your nonprofit viable. From donor plaques to full recognition walls, Signarama can help you identify those who make your mission thrive.

Developing a donor recognition strategy

In order to appropriately recognize your donors, a donor recognition strategy is in order! Good communication with your donor base involves not only keeping them in the loop with your organization’s mission and activities, but recognizing their contributions and thanking them in a timely fashion for their continued support. At some point, touch base with your contributors to let them know the difference their support has made, in terms of how your gift furthered your cause.

Best practices

Since donors contribute to your organization at various levels, developing a tiered donor recognition plan is essential. Much the same as fund drives that award a branded items that coincide with donor dollar amounts to supporters, tiered system best practices can structure thank-yous geared to the nature of contributors’ gifts. However, every donor should receive an acknowledgement of their contribution immediately after showing their support, in the way of a thank-you, such as:

  • Hand-written notes you can turn over to a mail program for more efficiency and effectiveness
  • Direct mail pieces that create a digital disruption and that are perceived  as something more personal and tangible
  • Videos that entertain your donors, while thanking them for their support
  • Sending branded products, as mentioned above, such as apparel, bags, and kitchen gadgets also express your gratitude
  • Phone calls from board members or beneficiaries show your appreciation in a genuine way through one-on-one conversations
  • Spotlighting donors in a section or in the sidebar of your newsletter or on your website can show your appreciation, as well as provide interesting ongoing content for your site.

Virtual Recognition

Speaking of virtual thank yous, feature your donors in a social media post that might include donor images, but first make sure they’re okay with using their likeness and acknowledging them as a supporter.

  • Share contributors’ posts when they post something about your organization
  • Feature a weekly or monthly post, such as #donorday that spotlights individual donors, groups of donors, or all of your donors, varying your posts to keep your donor content top-of-mind
  • During large campaigns, host a livestream to thank donors as they arrive.

Appreciation events

In-person appreciation events make great ways to create a community feeling and allow your donors to connect with one another, for happy hour networking events, cooking classes and crafting classes, or by providing donors tickets in a premium section at an upcoming event. It might also be easier to hold a virtual happy hour, cooking tutorial or some other get-together that brings your donors together for a virtual special thank you. For less immediate yet timeless tributes, large nonprofits often erect donor recognition walls as a way to thank their major donors and to illustrate the culture and mission of their organizations.

Donor Recognition Walls

The enduring popularity of donor walls is due to several factors. Donor walls:

  • Create a permanent, branded focal point that celebrates your supporters
  • Define the character of your organization
  • Accentuate your physical space
  • Provide a meaningful visual display that your supporters connect to
  • Improve donor retention 

In general, donor recognition walls pay homage to large contributors, who are major donors to capital campaigns or planned donations. However, donor walls can be designed to honor any level of support. Evolving from a classic wall of metal plaques, donor recognition walls today are often constructed from sustainably sourced materials and natural elements, in conjunction with text elements to create stunning visual displays, while hybrid walls, using digital displays are growing in popularity, as well.

Classic Recognition Plaques

For some nonprofit organizations, the upscale style of their space’s architecture and design may lend itself best to a classic plaque display that creates a timeless, stately commemoration of your cause and recognition of your supporters.

Hybrid Recognition Walls

Including digital elements in your donor recognition walls can add interactivity  to your recognition wall, allowing visitors to engage more with your recognition wall. As it turns out, the brain can process images and videos 60,000 times faster than text. You can allow visitors to navigate your space and engage with your donor recognition wall more than they can a static display. One of the convenient things about digital signs revolves around the fact that the content you display can be easily updated, so you can add or update info about donors, your mission, and the results of your contributors’ support, along with providing upcoming event information, volunteer opportunities and other activities. In this era of restricted access to buildings, nonprofits can allow supporters to access their recognition walls virtually, by scanning a QR code or including a link to their website.

Outdoor Spaces

If your nonprofit facility happens to include large outdoor spaces, a permanent outdoor donor recognition wall could enhance your nonprofit’s mission and represent your cause in a natural setting, while honoring your supporters. Keep in mind that outdoor signage should be constructed out of durable, weather-resistant materials in order to perform quell for a long time. Professional design, production, and installation are important to ensure that your sign is top quality from idea to installation.


As with any business sign, nonprofit organizations should partner with a professional sign company, such as Signarama, when considering installing a classic donor recognition wall or a more contemporary recognition wall, using sustainable and naturally sourced elements or a hybrid of digital and traditional elements. At Signarama, our experts offer a suite of design, production, and installation services for your donor recognition project. We can help you with the design and development of your donor recognition awards, walls, and more! As a nonprofit, recognizing your donors and thanking them for their support builds loyalty and empowers your organization to implement your cause for a long time to come!

At some point, your donor recognition strategy should include contacting your contributors to let them know the difference their support has made, in terms of how their gifts furthered your cause, but that’s a different topic for another post!