Creating a donor wall: Why a virtual wall is your best bet

A donor wall gives recognition to your supporters and can be a physical wall or virtual wall. Learn why it’s important and some ideas on how to create yours.





Nonprofit Strategies
Nonprofit Strategies

Creating a donor wall: Why a virtual wall is your best bet

A donor wall gives recognition to your supporters and can be a physical wall or virtual wall. Learn why it’s important and some ideas on how to create yours.





A donor wall gives recognition to your supporters and can be a physical wall or virtual wall. Learn why it’s important and some ideas on how to create yours.





Kylie Davis
March 14, 2022
June 15, 2022

One of the best ways to hit your fundraising goals is to transform one-time donors into loyal, recurring supporters. In fact, according to Double the Donation, recurring donors give 42% more than one-time donors. 

Which raises the question: How do you build long-standing relationships with supporters?

Building deep-seated relationships with your donor base is not all that different from building relationships with anyone else in life. By expressing gratitude, showing appreciation, and recognizing supporters for all they've done, you can encourage donors to continuously support your organization.

One unique way to express appreciation for supporters is through a donor wall. A donor recognition wall is a physical or virtual wall that displays the names of your supporters. Below, we dive into what a donor wall is and a few innovative ways to express your appreciation. Plus, we analyze new, jaw-dropping research on why a digital display may be a far preferable way to thank your supporters.

What is a donor wall, exactly? 

My Name GIF

A donor recognition wall can be a physical or virtual wall meant to recognize your supporters. The wall features the names of your donors, as a way of thanking them for getting you one step closer to your fundraising goal. 

Donor walls are commonly used by public and private universities, medical centers, nonprofit organizations, museums, and other organizations and institutions to amplify the efforts of supporters. How each of these organizations chooses to display donor names weighs heavily on the institution, physical space, number of donors, and the budget for the project. 

A donor wall serves a number of purposes, including:

  • Expressing thanks: According to the Donor Loyalty Study conducted by the Nonprofit Times, the vast majority of donors want to be thanked and acknowledged for their contributions. A donor recognition display is a fun, innovative way to show your appreciation. 
  • Acknowledging major donors: Research shows that 88% of all charitable giving comes from 12% of donors. A donor wall is a unique way to express gratitude toward major gift donors and their ongoing support.
  • Improve donor relations: While contributions from new donors increased in 2021, the donor retention rate from existing donors dropped by 7.2%. A donor recognition wall can be a new, innovative tactic within your larger donor retention strategy.

Physical donor wall ideas for your nonprofit

When developing your donor recognition project, you have two primary choices: a physical wall or a virtual wall. If you're envisioning a physical donor wall design, you'll need to develop a budget, select your materials, and find a location where the wall can be displayed. 

To help kickstart the planning process, consider these options: 

  • Metal plaques: These metal plaques from Etsy are an affordable solution, don't take up too much space, and can be given to the donor or displayed publicly. 
  • Donor tree: A donor tree is made up of a trunk (typically made from wood or metal) with each "leaf" inscribed with a donor's name.
  • Mural wall: If you're looking for a cost-effective solution, you can transform any hallway into a donor wall by painting supporters' names with acrylic paint.
  • Glass panels: For a donor wall with a little artistic flair, you can etch each donor name into a glass panel. 
  • Stainless steel signage: If you're looking for an industrial approach, consider adding a gorgeous stainless steel panel with your supporters' names.

Why a virtual donor wall might be the better fit for your supporters

In theory, a donor wall sounds like a wonderful way to recognize supporters for their contributions. In practice, a physical wall comes with a number of shortcomings.

Case in point: Many organizations are switching from in-person fundraising events to virtual or hybrid campaigns. In that regard, a donor wall might be completely missed (read: never seen) by a large number of supporters. This digital movement could, in turn, make many physical donor walls obsolete. 

So the question remains, is a donor wall the best way to honor your supporters?

Before you toss your donor recognition program out the window, consider this twist:

Offer a virtual donor wall, rather than a wall that is—quite literally—carved in stone (or steel, copper, get the picture).

A virtual donor list can highlight donor names, while garnering excitement for a fundraising campaign. Therefore, donor recognition is used as a tool to build on current campaign momentum, without making donors feel as though they're put on display.

Plus, unlike a physical wall, a virtual donor wall—like a supporter feed—offers a digital solution that could be enjoyed by all supporters, no matter where in the world they’re located.

How to build a virtual donor wall with your Givebutter supporter feed

Donor wall: Givebutter supporter feed

Your supporter feed on Givebutter offers an interactive, energetic way to acknowledge supporters throughout your campaign. With a donor wall, you can:

  • Thank supporters in real-time: Your team can comment on each contribution individually, thanking donors right in the moment. Keep in mind that donors who receive a thank you within 48 hours are 4X more likely to give again.
  • Add a little flair: Your team can add GIFs, emojis, illustrations, and other fun designs to your feed, helping to hype up the recognition. (Plus, it feels more authentic than a cold donor plaque!)
  • Save funds: Pricing for custom donor walls varies widely, with some design elements on Etsy costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, a digital donor wall through a supporter feed is absolutely free, included within your Givebutter account.
  • Build supporter engagement: A supporter feed is a lighthearted way to drive the conversation around your current campaign. Check out how this Givebutter nonprofit carried on incredible engagement throughout its campaign.
  • Offer dedications (In honor/memory of): Enable supporters to give in honor or in memory of someone with the option to notify a recipient via email.
  • Respect donor privacy: With a Givebutter supporter feed, donors can make contributions anonymously, if they choose to do so. And yet, your team can still like, reply to, or add a few heart emojis to any anonymous contribution.
  • Share your donor display on your website: (Coming soon!) While physical donor walls can only be seen in one location, virtual donor walls are visible from anywhere in the world. Soon, you'll be able to embed your supporter feed directly into your website, helping to carry on the excitement. 

Show your appreciation with your Givebutter supporter feed 

Donor walls are an innovative way to show gratitude toward your supporters. A donor wall can be physical or virtual, proudly displaying donor names to the public.

However, new research shows that public recognition may not be the best way to thank supporters.

Therefore, a virtual donor wall might be a more appropriate method.

Givebutter's supporter feed serves as an interactive donor wall that helps garner excitement for your campaign. With a supporter feed, you can add GIFs and emojis, keep donor names anonymous, and thank donors in real-time. Plus, the supporter feed comes as a built-in feature within Givebutter's always-free fundraising platform.

Givebutter is the modern, all-in-one solution complete with 130+ fundraising tools, CRM solutions, and marketing automation. Givebutter's suite of services is always free, thanks to donor tips—thereby delivering the lowest fees in the industry.

Ready to see how Givebutter can help you reach your fundraising goals? Take a tour to get started.

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Kylie Davis

Kylie Davis

Givebutter Content Marketing Specialist

Kylie thrives on supporting others, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.

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