A donor tree is a recognition tool used to honor people who contribute to a charity, initiative, or other cause. Participants receive individual leaves on the tree which can include their names and information about the level of the donation, depending on the format. Donor trees can be made from a variety of materials including wood, metal, and paper, depending on the type of project. Some are intended to be permanent fixtures in public spaces to recognize the people who contributed to their construction.
In the donor tree model, each person who contributes to the cause receives a leaf which can be attached to the tree. People may fill out their own leaves with information or they can be professionally painted, engraved, or penned. This form of public acknowledgment may appeal to some donors and can increase the size of contributions. The presence of a tree in a public area can spark interest from prospective donors who may be curious and could participate once the purpose of the tree is explained.
Empty spaces on a donor tree can serve as a silent reminder to contribute as people pass by. Different leaf colors can be used to distinguish between various donation levels, which offers a quick visual reference for the size of contributions already received by the organization. Some designs have room for company logos, allowing business donors to publicize their charity activities. Donors who wish to remain anonymous can choose not to use leaves, or can request that they be marked anonymous.
Numerous organizations utilize donors to offer or expand services to members of the public. Cultivation and management of donors is an important part of a donation program. Public recognitions like plaques, donor trees, and similar tools tend to be particularly appreciated by donors who want a marked public expression of appreciation. They can also spur competition; members of a community or organization, for example, may track performance on a donor tree and this could encourage sluggish donors to join the funding campaign.
Metal trees designed for permanent installations and honoring large donors may have leaves made from metal, glass, or other materials. These are typically engraved by a company specializing in this service. For short-term campaigns, a paper or cardboard donor tree with leaves people fill out themselves can be effective. This is more appropriate for small donations, as people donating large sums of money typically expect more substantial recognition.