How To Use Donor Recognition in a Capital Campaign


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Capital campaigns using donor recognition are easy to conduct. In this type of capital campaign, a nonprofit group seeks a pledge of a certain contribution amount and in return, offers to provide a specific type of recognition.

Donations of a certain amount are rewarded with graduated levels of recognition. The actual donation could be a one-time gift, a periodic donation, a monthly automatic withdrawal, or an annual check.

Recognition products are available in a wide range of price points. They offer high-quality ways for your organization to thank donors for their support.

Inexpensive items can be given to donors for smaller contributions, while larger donations are usually provided some type of visual recognition at your organization's headquarters or in a prominent high-visibility location outdoors.

Recognition Plaques
For very personalized recognition, consider offering a cast bronze plaque that highlights individual contributions to a specific project.

You can also offer smaller individual photo plaques that provide more room for customization of the message.

Donor Bricks
Engraved or personalized bricks are an excellent way to provide or incent capital campaign contributions with inexpensive recognition. One attractive method is to use brick pavers with laser engraved messages in a special entryway or sidewalk.

Another way to display these donor bricks that strengthens the tie to your group is to design and construct an attractive landscaping display.

Many groups build a reflection garden or water fountain area and then incorporate these engraved bricks in the sidewalks, planters, and rest/reflection areas.

Ask yourself if your grounds could benefit from this type of additional landscaping and then build a fund raising campaign around it.

Remember that each personalized brick could bring a donation of as much as $150 while also strengthening the bond between the donor and your nonprofit organization.

Donor Walls
A similar display method involves creating a donor wall. Here, a contribution again earns the right to place a long-lasting commemorative message on a brick or decorative tile.

The difference is that the display is vertical and designed to be admired by passerby. Think of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington as a high-end example.

You can mix and match different styles of recognition throughout a large donor wall display. Several companies work with non-profit groups to design and implement their unique vision of a donor wall.

Fundraising for a High-Dollar Capital Campaign
For recognizing donors in a high-dollar capital campaign, nothing beats an attractive wall display in a high-traffic area such as a foyer or entryway.

Let's face it. People like to see their good deeds recognized. They also like to see themselves recognized where their friends and neighbors can see.

The higher the campaign amounts sought for your capital campaign, the more tasteful your recognition program should be.

One simple method features engraved brass plaques on a polished wood backdrop. Donors select the message they want displayed on their respective plaques.

Donor Recognition With Gift Trees
A somewhat fancier method of donor recognition involves using a gift tree. A gift tree is a three dimensional sculpture of a tree with burnished metal leaves. It is usually fixed upon a wooden backdrop for wall mounting.

Each leaf is engraved with the donor's message. The end result is high-quality artwork to be displayed in the organization's foyer or lobby.

Kimberly Reynolds writes for national publications about nonprofit fundraising, donor recognition and charity fundraisers.

Find more school fund raising tips on her website,


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