What material is used in a donor wall?


Glass can be the dominant material used, or it can be used as just an accent piece. Depending on the installation, the glass can be illuminated, allowing the etching to glow. This impact is pretty cool. The LEDs are installed along the edges of the glass, with light going inside the thickness of glass, which creates an effect where the etched information actually glows while the rest of the glass is neutral.

Glass Donor Wall

Glass Donor Wall

Acrylic can also be etched, but doesn’t have this type of flexibility. Both materials can be used to create a display with an acetate film or poster printed with graphics and names, that is placed between two sheets of acrylic or glass and held off the wall with aluminum standoffs or sign posts. This makes the display appear to float off the wall.

Changeable Channels

A bit of an old school approach, this works well with displays that have a series of names, but where few are added each year. For example, we installed the Malcolm Baldrige Award for Quality using a channel display. Each year one new winner is announced and a new plate is engraved. They have been administering the Baldrige Award for Quality since the 1980s, awarded by the U.S Commerce Department. This award is administered by the American Society for Quality  in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Example of Channel Display

Example of Channel Display

Plates slide up to remove and engrave, and can then be slid back into place. The wood design matches the front entryway and all the custom furniture in the reception area.

Interactive Media

Touch screen digital displays have a lot of appeal because they can be updated as often as necessary,  they can tell the donor stories in the actual words of the donors, and are more impactful as potential donors explore the display and picture their contribution being reflected.

Digital Donor Display

Digital Donor Display

If you have lists of hundreds or thousands of names, it simply isn’t practical to engrave brass plates every year. If the display is never updated, then it becomes stale and loses interest for the viewer. A good interactive display also incorporates a design around the display that attracts the viewer. If it is just a monitor, it seems to not be as strong. Its also great for conveying lots of information in addition to just donor lists. This might be video of the presidents message, a local rss news feed from the website, weather, a calendar of events, how to give, alumni opportunities and more.


Think counter-top, that same stuff can also be used to create really cool displays. The material is easy to cut, easy to engrave, color-fills nicely and all around, is a great and long lasting material for a display.

Corian Display

Corian Display

The material can be beveled, is able to be cut to any size and really makes the names pop out.

Traditional Brass Plates on Wood Background

Traditonal Wood & Brass Donor Wall

This example of a traditional donor wall uses several sizes of brass plates depending on the amount of the donation, and large hardwood walls highlight each group.

The traditional brass plates on wood convey a warm and friendly feeling. Large or small, it is a classic look for a donor wall. The plates can be added each year as wall space or channels allow. This display uses both.

Donor Gifts

Donor gifts can run all across the board, with a lot depending on the cost that you want. A simple plaque will often accomplish what is needed, but sometimes you need to reach a little farther.

Multi Stage sand carving

Multi Stage sand carving

This etched display stands out, is illuminated, and makes a cool statement to the recipient. The LEDs are in the base, and shine upward, catching the etching and making it glow.


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