Funding a modern Medical Center is a costly enterprise. These vital institutions are tasked with matters of life and death, and we all depend on them at some point in our lives. Medical Centers, in turn, depend on the funding of their many benefactors so that they may continue their ongoing operations and undertake capital construction, while at the same time conducting clinical research. Donor recognition programs are an essential means of recognizing benefactors, and thanking the organizations, concerned individuals and patrons who have donated for their much-needed generosity.
Aesthetics, Inc. has been assisting health care organizations by developing personalized donor recognition programs that evolve over time as conditions change. Peggy McCartney, Aesthetic’s Senior Designer, recently completed a donor recognition program for a children’s hospital and shared some of her insights.
Peggy, what makes a good donor display?
I think a good display is beautiful, engaging and the appropriate to its location and those it honors. I like when artistic elements of the design invite the viewer to stop and look at it, so they can see the donor’s name and read information about the hospital and community. Good donor display designs recognize the different sizes of contributions too, and encourage donors to give more. They are easily updated so that the facility can modify the display to reflect their different benefactors and contributions made as they change over time.
What are the special considerations of designing donor recognition for a children’s hospital?
Safety is of primary importance, of course, as it is with any hospital or healthcare facility. The inclusion of interesting and engaging elements at kid-friendly levels enables children to stop and interact with the display.For this project, an interactive display with monitors at different viewing levels was used to showcase the art of children who have been part of the hospital. One of the monitors, located at a child’s height, featured artwork created by the patients, with others featuring both artwork and donor contributions.
When you put together a design for a medical center, how do you do it? Who do you work with?
The first step is to put together a committee that will work with Aesthetics to establish the vision and priorities of the donor recognition program. It’s critical to get input from the foundation’s board of directors, marketing departments and potentially the IT (Information Technology) department if there are going to be any electronic displays involved.
Once the committee has been established, we review the organization’s mission and values statement, and encourage committee members to contribute ideas. We want to know what their vision of the project is, and what they seek to accomplish with the display, as well as what design elements and materials they would like to see. If possible, we visit the installation space and examine finishes the interior designers will be using, so that we as a group can understand what is appropriate for the area where the donor recognition will be displayed. We also determine if the design needs to incorporate pre-existing artwork or design elements.
What happens when a hospital is engaged in more than one campaign?
Sometimes it is beneficial to develop a larger display and incorporate multiple campaigns within it instead of creating several different stand-alone displays in different bits and pieces. The display we created for this children’s hospital incorporates multiple campaigns, including the Cancer Center Capital Campaign, the Legacy Giving campaign, and the Cumulative Gifts Campaign, with individual tiles for gifts above $250,000.
The Cancer Center Capital Campaign, which is an older fund raising effort that the foundation wanted to continue to acknowledge, is featured on the center monitor and alternates between donor names and children’s’ artwork. This display also allows for a Foundation marketing message and provides ample room for 10 years of expansion and growth.
Having multiple campaigns within a display depends mostly on the wall space made available for it. In this case there was a large area they were able to utilize for multiple campaigns; some medical centers simply don’t have enough space for more than one. Creating donor recognition is an opportunity for collaboration, creativity, and helping those who contribute feel good about the experience – feel appreciated and part of the medical center’s community.
Who were the key partners in your recent program for the children’s hospital?
This display was a collaborative effort between the foundation and marketing departments at the hospital. They had a very specific vision that the display should be like a gallery, with different points of interest, surfaces that are bright and colorful, and that it should contain art created by children, especially children connected with the hospital.
How does the design reinforce the brand, wayfinding and interior design of the hospital?
The vibrant colors of the display are accent colors that are used in the interior finishes throughout the hospital. The graphic elements found on four of the larger panels reinforce the wayfinding themes found on each floor, for example Under the Sea, The Beach, The Garden, and The City. Dimensional layering of glass panels with digital displays highlighted art created by patients and offered many points of interest along the 22-foot wide display. The hospital’s values are also included, in both English and Spanish, to reinforce their branding message.
Donor recognition can often just seem like a wall of names, clearly you’ve gone away from that approach.
Today we have so many more tools in our toolbox. We have works of art, interactive videos, different types of materials, and unique design features that tie in with the overall aesthetic of the medical center. We allow the wall to function on a variety of levels, attracting people of all ages, while being a sincere expression of gratitude from the organization to those who have been so generous.
Do you find yourself repeating designs?
None our designs are quite the same. Every medical center is really unique, and we try to celebrate what it is that is special about it, so it can reflect a sense of place and the community it serves. Now it is true that we do have a few clients that fall in love with a display of ours and want exactly that same thing. Even so, I will take that concept and make it fit the vision and values of that particular medical center.
Please tell us a little about your background.
I have a degree in Interior Design at Fresno State. As I am also very interested in graphic design and I have several years of schooling in that as well. Moving to San Diego and finding the people at Aesthetics was very beneficial to me personally, as it provided the opportunity to draw upon both of these interests.
What do you like about working on donor recognition projects?
I like the challenge of taking an existing display and redesigning it so it will fit better with an updated facility. It is fun to come up with a new concept or idea, and then get the client’s reaction to it. I like helping clients discover the direction they want to take with a project, and seeing their reaction as it is unveiled. Most especially I like that we work with health care organizations, where the money raised goes to a good cause.