Donor Recognition: A Look At The Perot Museum

Being in the fundraising profession, my travels always involve visiting museums and cultural institutions to see how they do things.

A recent visit to Dallas included a splendid afternoon at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

A spectacular angular building rises from along the downtown expressway and draws interest with its living roof covered with grasses, shrubs and rocks. The entrance walkway features an outdoor frog pond with bright green climbable amphibians and a hands-on music play area.

Inside, patrons are greeted by staff with a guide to the exhibits and floor plan, and directed through a softly lit hall toward the second lobby where tickets are purchased or picked up a will call.

On the Sunday afternoon of my visit, the place was bustling with families and people coming to see the permanent collections on four floors as well as a special dinosaur exhibit.

The museum does many things well, including great science and nature research, that is communicated with enthusiasm and in a tone and language that assumes its audience can understand and enjoy complex material.

But what struck me most was the meticulous donor recognition that is tastefully displayed throughout the museum.

The main entrance hall includes the donor wall for the campaign with highly readable text on glass that is lit with natural light coming in from the floor to ceiling wall behind it.  The leading donors’ names were also set off in a metal relief with quotes from each of them that provided insight into the donors’ personal passion for bringing nature and science to children, families and visitors.

Each named hall featured the donor’s name at the entrance wall and donors toward individual exhibit areas were recognized within the exhibit with clever design techniques.

Not only was it inspiring to see the level and depth of support given, it was fascinating to see visitors’ interest in seeing the names of the people who helped to make the museum a reality.

A campaign for a new building is an opportunity to recognize your donors and it is an important legacy to ensure that the recognition is executed with class that reflects the vision and mission of your organization.