Keys for Electronic Donor Recognition Display Decision-making

May 1st, 2013

Electronic donor recognition displays can be web-based, stored on a central server or stand as an independent computer system. Decide what best aligns with the technology, IT support and budgets available to YOU.

Electronic Donor Display

Electronic Donor Display at Phoebe Memorial Hospital

Usually, if the components are web-based, the organization must plan to engage the services of an outside resource for design, development, service and support. The hardware expenses are typically less for both web and server-based applications, usually only a monitor, speakers and connecting wiring. With an independent computer system, design and implementation is less expensive – possibly eliminating the need for a programmer, yet the cost of the computer must be included.

Analyze these four factors in decisions regarding interactive donor recognition venues for your organization:

  • Cost of equipment and implementation–In house solutions are NOT often cost effective

For the most part these costs represent monies that are to be paid directly to consulting specialists and  hardware providers. Whenever possible, outside resources should be engaged for the technical work and product selection. Although many organizations have staff in-house who tout an understanding of the technical and graphic design nuances of interactive media, fundraising organizations should be raising money and  stewarding donors, not developing display content!

  • Initial content development–Create a storyboard

The best method for planning the content of your display is still the tried-and-true storyboard. Define the  audience, divide the content into specific messages and look for content you already have that can be re-purposed.   Use of a specialist will benefit the process by sorting the information and marrying it to a specific delivery plan.   Always ask for leadership from your consultant concerning the pros and cons of electronic media as a donor recognition tool. This is a new practice, there is no “right answer” yet.

  • Plan now–On-going content management and budgetary support are crucial for long term success

Think ahead. Don’t be caught short regarding staff or expenses to maintain the display after the initial installation.   Identify the processes that will facilitate routine updates.  Establish a schedule for the development of new content.  Plan now for proper time allotments to keep the content fresh and engaging going forward. Who will do that for you?  Remember, the specific scope of this display is Donor Recognition.  Do not let that primary message be lost by relegating this tasks to someone with the technical skill but not the experience and understanding to judge the nuances of donor stewardship.  Again, a consulting specialist can be vital during the planning phases.  Look for a firm familiar with both the unique concerns of donor recognition and the technical requirements of an electronic display.

  • Reportability–Metrics and accountability will ensure budgetary support

You must plan to measure the efforts of your display.  It is imperative to monitor how many users you have, what they look at, and the patterns of viewing/using the display. Build in methods for gathering user actions and document such statistics.  You’ll be able to track activity and adjust content as required. Many web-based interactive programs offer this as standard practice. In other situations ingenuity may be required:  consider including a call to action using a distinct electronic message so that you can measure the number of responses; similarly, include a special offer, a dedicated link to online giving, registration for an event or even a newsletter that gathers and forwards user information.  Whatever the method, just gather the metrics to improve, justify and sustain the electronic tool you’ve created. Electronics are unique in their ability to track and data-mine, all critical features meant to ensure the ROI of your efforts.

Written by Robin E. WIlliams

Robin E. Williams Philanthropy Center

Interactive Donor Display, Lansing MI, 1999


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