Creating a Sense of Place

Connecting Donor Recognition to Your Community

Creating "a sense of place". A side-by-side image of PDG's digital donor recognition wall with donor stories and local images next to an image of the windmill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park that it's referencing.

As people, we tend to form strong emotional ties to our surroundings. We create memories associated with physical spaces and nature. We recognize, both on a conscious and subconscious level, how those spaces make us feel.

As an experiential design and build studio specializing in donor recognition for hospitals, universities, and exterior spaces, PDG recognizes the importance of creating a sense of place in the installations we collaboratively design with our clients. We often ask, “How do you want visitors to experience this space?” Then with careful study and artistry, we craft colors, textures, imagery, words, and technology into displays, exhibits, and plaques that connect organizations to communities. We design intentionally to strengthen donor families and move others to follow their generous examples.

A person can often feel emotionally overwhelmed, uneasy, and stressed in a hospital setting. In our work with Christus Spohn Hospital, creating a donor recognition wall that instilled a sense of calm and tranquility became a priority. Because of its location on Texas’ beautiful southern Gulf shoreline, an environmental sense of place seemed like a perfect choice for the backdrop. The featured donor wall in the main lobby was made from an abstracted image of the shoreline through printed glass. Wood framing with floating name panels recognizing cumulative and annual giving, major donors, and planned giving embeds the donors into the backdrop. This creates art with purpose - either of the elements on their own are not as strong as when they are combined. The 80-foot display was made complete by adding the viewer's reflection as though they were walking on the beach.

Our Path Forward – Christus Spohn Hospital

When it comes to representing a sense of place in the form of digital donor recognition, the impressive 16-screen digital array at Sutter Health’s Pacific Heights Outpatient Center is a dramatic display celebrating the people, staff, and donors that support this diverse and busy neighborhood outpatient center. Digital art includes familiar places in the neighborhood and around town, along with stunning nature art videos interspersed with caregiver and donor portraits, testimonials about their association with Sutter Health, and their impact of community support. PDG teamed with local photographers and videographers to create unique individualized content that fits both their donor's interests and connects them to the larger community.

Sutter Health's Pacific Heights Outpatient Center

Creating a sense of place through exterior donor recognition is perhaps the most direct way to create links to nature and the surrounding community. A prime example of this is the Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Voted USA Today’s Best City Park in 2021, Gathering Place is funded by a combination of more than 80 corporate and philanthropic organizations.

Major donor recognition is integrated into two locations in the 65-acre Park. Outside The Boathouse, you’ll find a grand horizontal donor recognition display where each donor name is individually fashioned onto an engraved, interlocking, stainless steel tile. PDG partnered with Gathering Place’s construction team to create a niche so that the entire display is architecturally integrated, creating a sense of importance and permanence. Just inside the lodge, PDG’s donor recognition display mirrors other unique building materials at the park in an elegant display that reaches up a 14-foot wall built out of blackened steel panels with donor names fashioned out of dimensional bronze lettering. These displays of gratitude offer a unique opportunity to be front and center in the public eye reminding viewers of Gathering Place’s commitment to the community.

Gathering Place

At PDG we understand the importance of including a sense of place in donor recognition. Connecting the donor to their community gives more meaning to their gift. Donor recognition is emotional and when donors feel a sense of connection, they are more likely to increase the amount and frequency of their giving while creating a relationship with your organization that can last a lifetime.

Here are a few questions to consider when planning your next project:

  • What message will the recognition communicate to its viewers?
  • What elements make the environment unique and worth caring about?
  • How does the recognition impact the space? Not just the immediate architectural surround, but the entirety of the room.
  • Does the space provide a connection to the community? Does it create a sense of belonging and attachment?

PDG will help your organization answer these questions and the many others you’ll encounter along the way. No matter what stage your donor recognition project is in, PDG is here to help. Contact us today.

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