Helping customers choose the correct wording and layout for donor plaques
is a common occurrence for award dealers. Sometimes customers will know
the exact message and layout they want, and all you have to do is show
them the different styles of plaques that are available.
Other customers will know basically what they
want to say, but they will be unsure of exactly how to word these sentiments.
They will welcome your help in selecting an appropriate message.
Plaques as Donor Awards
Donor award plaques are a popular way to recognize
generosity. Donors may include: one person, two or more people, special
interest groups, non-profit organizations and businesses. Donations can
be made in the form of: money, land, buildings, equipment, food, clothing,
works of art and more. And those receiving donations can be: churches,
hospitals, charities, museums, public radio and television stations, schools
and universities, parks, recreational centers, etc.
The type of donor award plaque alcan also vary.
Three types of plaque master plaques, individual plaques and site
plaques are all popularly used to recognize donors. In order to
understand how to compose award messages involving these three different
types of plaques, you may find it helpful to consider a hypothetical example
involving a hospital that needs funding to build a new wing.
The hospital in this example, Metro Hospital,
is in dire need of more patient rooms as well as updated laboratories.
The hospital administrators decide that the majority of the funding for
the construction of the new wing will come through private donations.
In hopes of enticing donors, Metro Hospital administrators
develop a donor award program that divides donors into three different
groups based on the dollar amount of their donations. The three groups
are labeled as such: Gold, Silver and Bronze.
The highest level of recognition goes to the members
of the Gold award group, those who donate $10,000 or more. These donors,
either individuals or businesses, have their names placed on the Gold
award group section of a master plaque to be located in the hospital lobby.
In addition, they receive individual plaques and are individually recognized
with a site plaque.
A master plaque is a large award plaque that is
usually permanently mounted in a prominent location within the facility.
These plaques list the names of the donors as well as giving other important
information about the project. The master plaque is often located in a
highly visible or well-traveled area that is accessible to the public.
Master plaques can also be perpetual plaques,
i.e. with additional names to be added in the future. For example, if
Metro administrators ever decide to make further additions to the new
wing, the names of the new donors can be placed on the same master plaque
that contains the names of the previous donors.
Due to the size of their contributions, donors
in the Gold award group receive individual plaques in addition to having
their names on the master plaque. These awards are portable and almost
always contain the name of the individual or business that made the donation.
The individual plaque may also include any other key information which
describes the circumstances surrounding the donation.
Individual plaques allow donors to proudly display
the awards in their offices, dens, lobbies, etc. Since donors often feel
good about their charitable efforts, the individual plaques give them
a chance to show their civic-mindedness to others. Metro Hospital administrators
structure their donor award program such that the big money donors of
the Gold award group are deemed to have donated a room in the new addition.
Therefore, they are assigned site plaques in addition to the
master plaque and individual plaques. The site plaques will be used to
designate a specific donor name(s) to individual rooms throughout the
Site plaques are an interesting way of recognizing
monetary contributions. They are often placed next to the doorways of
hospital rooms, laboratories, etc. Instead of thinking of their donation
as a way of helping to build a new wing onto a hospital, they can consider
their money as being spent on a specific room or piece of equipment.
Even though their money probably will not literally
pay for one specific room, the site plaque is still a good way to acknowledge
the concept that particular donors make large enough contributions to
pay for entire rooms.
Site plaques are typically small in comparison
to the other kinds of plaques. Usually they only have enough space for
the donor's name and a short message, e.g. This room donated by Douglas
E. Smith. Site plaques do not have to be limited to rooms in the new wing.
The hospital also might decide to purchase site plaques that recognize
the donation of a new laboratory or lab equipment.
Hospital's next category of donors is the Silver award group, those who
donate at least $5,000 but less than $10,000. The donors who contribute
enough money to qualify for this group have their names included within
the Silver award group section of the master plaque, and they also receive
third category is called the Bronze award group and includes those who
donate at least $1,000 but less than $5,000. They have their names added
to the Bronze award group section of the master plaque and receive a framed
certificate and letter of thanks.
course, not everyone can afford to donate large sums of money. To recognize
people who donate five or ten dollars at a time or write checks for small
amounts, the hospital will include a general thank-you to all the special
donors who helped.
article uses the example of Metro Hospital's donor award program as a
way to discuss some of the types of plaques and how they might be presented
to donors. However, there are numerous acts of charity that can be recognized
through donor award plaques.
example, a married couple may donate funding for a row of pews and the
church decides to recognize the contribution with an individual plaque
as well as a site plaque for the pews. A college might have a master plaque
recognizing alumni who donate more than a thousand dollars. A university
might present an individual plaque to a professional basketball player
who sets up a scholarship fund in his name.
that you know more about donor award occasions and recipients, let's examine
some of the different procedures involved in creating an effective message
for donor award plaques.
helping customers create a message to engrave on a donor plaque, begin
with the seven key elements. In order of importance these elements are:
recipient's name, presenter's name, name of award (if there is one), reason
for award, location, date and any descriptive, miscellaneous or connecting
phrases. All of these elements may or may not be included, depending on
the type of plaque and other variables.
and connecting phrases help to develop a clear and interesting message.
Descriptive phrases explain the purpose of the award or provide a detailed
description of the occasion. Connecting phrases consist of transitional
words used to tie the message together. Word combinations such as: presented
to, in recognition of, on this date and presented by are a few examples.
the prestige that accompanies many donor awards, the tone of the message
tends to be formal. Therefore, abbreviations are not often used. There
are some occasions when an informal message might be appropriate: for
example, if a famous television comedian donates funding for broadcast
equipment to the Communications Department of his Alma Mater.You and your
customers will have to make the decision of when informal messages are
included on donor plaques are often fully spelled out, including first
name, middle name or initial, last name and any family titles (I, II,
Jr., Sr.). Business titles, such as president or vice president, are also
sometimes included along with the business name.
date can be expressed in different ways. The formal nature of donor awards
usually indicates that the date should be fully spelled out, e.g. July
19, 2003. Another formal option is this 19th day of July 2003. However,
an abbreviated version of the date, or even the year alone, will work
for some occasions.
company names on a plaque involves special considerations. Ideally, you
want to achieve a level of consistency between abbreviations and fully
spelled out names for a more aesthetically pleasing layout. However, it
is not always possible to develop a steadfast rule concerning abbreviations,
as there will always be exceptions.
check all company names before proceeding. Some abbreviated versions are
the official name of that company and are meant to remain abbreviated.
If you must abbreviate a company name, it is important that you abbreviate
the least important parts of the name, e.g. Robert Tom Jones Incorporated
would be abbreviated as Robert Tom Jones Inc., rather than, Bob T. Jones
are another option to consider when you and your customers are creating
a message. Sometimes customers will come to you with a particularly meaningful
quotation and you will be asked to incorporate it into the overall message.
It might be a good idea to have a book of quotations, such as Bartlett's
Book of Familiar Quotations, readily available for customers who need
help locating appropriate quotations.
award plaque messages can be quite lengthy; therefore, dividing the message
into several lines is often necessary. This process is known as segmenting.
It is a good idea to split long lines at points where people will naturally
pause when reading. This helps to keep the logical portions of the message
on the same line. Try to keep nouns and their modifiers together as well.
good way to separate a particularly long phrase is to divide the line
before the preposition. A phrase such as Presented in Recognition of Outstanding
Generosity could be divided just before the preposition, of. Other prepositions
include: in, on, at, to, for and from.
to keep a person's full name on one line, including any family titles
that may follow. However, business titles are commonly placed on the following
lines if they will not fit on the same line as the person's name.
phrases should be kept on the same line. This rule holds true for nouns
and their modifiers as well. For example, words such as Boy Scouts are
easier to read and understand if they are next to each other.
dealing with a list of several names, using columnar text works well.
Names should be arranged in an organized fashion, often alphabetically
or chronologically. On donor awards that involve multiple names, it is
common to arrange the names into groups based on the dollar amount of
the donation, and then alphabetize the names within each group.
example, the master plaque to be installed in the lobby of Metro Hospital
will divide donors' names into three groups based on the size of their
donations. Names within each award group will be arranged alphabetically.
to keep the overall layout of the plaque in mind and plan ahead so that
the columns remain symmetrical. If the award is perpetual in nature, then
remember to leave room for other names to be added in the future.
may also be engraved onto a donor award plaque. Graphics can include borders,
ornamentals, logos and seals. Sometimes a picture may be included on the
plaque, e.g. a school, hospital or museum.
should fit the size, shape and overall layout of the plaque. They should
not be so large that they dominate the face of the award and not so small
that they are lost among the text.
there are so many different award occasions, you might find it helpful
to develop your own award plaque message handbook. An idea book such as
this allows customers to see sample messages and layout options for all
types of award plaques. You and your staff will be able to quickly scan
this reference tool and locate the best possible ideas for your clientele.
handbook should provide customers with the best samples from your previous
work. This way, not only are you giving them ideas, but you are also demonstrating
your experience with award plaques. On each page you can illustrate sample
messages for various awards, e.g. leadership, safety or retirement. Try
to show different message wording and offer as many layout alternatives
as you can.
you organize your handbook is your decision. Some dealers categorize the
handbook by the reason the award is being presented. For example, a separate
section can be included for achievement, sales/incentives or sporting
events messages. This way, if customers want to examine donor plaque messages,
all of their options will be conveniently located in one section.
you have decided on the arrangement that best suits your needs, you are
ready to assemble the handbook. A good way to display your message and
layout samples is in a three-ring binder. This provides easy access to
the information and allows you to add and remove pages as needed. It is
also a good idea to put the individual pages into plastic sleeves as a
way of protecting them from wear and tear.
that neatness and thoroughness is important during the assembly of the
handbook. Use a graphics software program, templates and/or a ruler in
order to give the handbook a professional appearance. Try to include a
wide variety of message and layout samples, so that customers and staff
will have many options to choose from.
installment has highlighted some of the points to consider when designing
donor award plaques. Figures 1 and 2 show different examples of messages
and layouts that may be helpful to you.
you haven't already done so, get started on your own award plaque message
handbook. It will make life a lot easier for you, your staff, and most
important, your customers.
tips on award plaque messages and layouts for other occasions, look for
the next installment of this series.