Facebook Tracking Code

What I learned on my journey: 5 steps to a successful digital donor recognition wall

Digital Donor Recognition Wall

What I learned on my journey: 5 steps to a successful digital donor recognition wall

This week’s blog is a guest post by Delphine Haslé, CFRE.

It’s one thing to talk about donor walls, but it’s an entirely different journey to take it from inception to a successful conclusion. Let me share with you my experience at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre Foundation.

Donor Recognition Wall

Before – traditional donor recognition wall.

1. Dream big, Think outside of the box

It all started with the need to update and replace an out-dated static donor wall so we could better engage leadership donors and prospects.

Our goals were ambitious – we wanted a solution that was elegant, captivating and dynamic yet not ostentatious.  Our overall theme was “Our donors, Our champions”.  We wanted to showcase current content that is easy to update at little to no cost. We wanted to ensure a “virtual wall” capacity so we could bring it to donors and their loved ones wherever they were located using different screens. And finally, we were looking for a flexible wall structure so we could move it if required.

2. Set a budget early and stick to it!

An approved budget is paramount to allow critical decision making during the journey.

There are many formulas out there to determine the budget for a donor wall. The most common is 2-4% of your expected fundraising revenue. Be ready to be transparent about your cost and explain why the solution you chose is cost effective. Our project costs included the database manipulation, the wall design/construction, the design of two microsites, and IT equipment.

3. Clean up your database today

Garbage in, garbage out! This could be the topic of another blog.

In our case, donors ($10K and up) are recognized for their cumulative giving since the inception of the Foundation in 1989. Donors are listed by alphabetical order per giving categories. Maintaining the integrity of the database is critical. We built a customized report to populate the donor wall. Yes, it’s almost as easy as click, click, copy, paste, done!

4. Small committee, Strong team

Our project committee included only three members — the perfect size to move the project swiftly. Teams of experts were engaged to complete the project on budget.  My only regret is that the teams did not work together more from the start of the project.

  • Physical Plant—their role was critical to determine the feasibility of the site for the physical wall
  • Wall Design—we chose a custom retrofit of the physical wall to house two 65″ display monitors featuring the Perley Rideau Foundation branding
  • Microsites—two websites were created using customized user-friendly templates. The content is updated by Foundation staff on a regular basis. One features the scroll of donor names, the other features donor stories and upcoming events “a story board”.
  • IT—two 65″ full HD LED display monitors, computers, network access and integration
  • Database clean-up and manipulation

5. Decide on a maintenance plan now

Digital allows for flexibility however don’t forget to plan for the ongoing updates!

For the name scrolling monitor, we chose a two-fold approach:

  1. We update the wall on an ad-hoc basis, a two-minute process including secure login and browser refresh!
  2. On an annual basis, we will update the entire list to ensure all names and appropriate levels have been recorded correctly.

For the story board, we update the content at least bi-monthly using previously published content repurposed on rotating slides. The message is customized to recognize cheque presentation events, donor impacts, upcoming events, or to welcome attendees on our Seeing is Believing tours.

Digital Donor Recognition Wall

After – digital donor recognition wall.

Final Thoughts

I am glad I got the opportunity to work on the Perley Rideau Foundation donor wall; it has been a rewarding experience. So many details were involved, not much unlike my kitchen renovation, but it was fun! If you are ready to start your journey, do not hesitate to contact me.


Thank you Delphine for sharing your journey! You can connect with Delphine via email at [email protected] or thru twitter at @HDelphine

Great resource for a list of questions to ask as your start your journey: AFP Information Exchange – Recognition Donor Wall Planning