Or Shalom Donor Recognition

Approved May 31, 2023

Policy for Recognizing Contributions to Our Community

Developed by the Or Shalom Donor Recognition Working Group
Abby Fitch, Malcolm Steinberg, Alex Lyon
May 30, 2023

As Congregation Or Shalom passes its 40th year and embarks on a significant building renovation project to meet the existing and emerging needs of its membership, the Board of Directors established an ad hoc working group in April 2023 to explore the most appropriate ways to acknowledge the many contributors—past and present—who have helped create and sustain our holy community. The Recognition Working Group’s goal is to propose a policy for recognizing contributions to Or Shalom that are aligned with Or Shalom’s values of community.

Guiding Values

In order to develop appropriate policies, it is important to name the values that will guide Or Shalom’s approach to funding and donor recognition. These include: 

  1. Gratitude 
    1. Or Shalom seeks to express gratitude for contributions to our community and provide opportunities for contributions of all kinds to be recognized and remembered.
  2. Inclusion
    1. Or Shalom values and seeks to recognize the full range of meaningful ways that people have contributed to our community, including non-monetary contributions such as time and service.
    2. Or Shalom recognizes the importance of valuing all sizes of monetary contributions, as a matter of respect for the diverse economic circumstances of our community members.
  3. Alignment
    1. For recognition through naming of spaces or buildings, the Board of Directors will confirm alignment between the values and actions of the prospective donor/organization and Or Shalom.


Based on the values above, we recommend that the Board consider the following principles and policies:

  1. Gratitude and Inclusion
    1. Or Shalom may recognize major gift donors (including individuals and organizations) through naming segments/spaces of buildings in their honour (e.g. a new wing, foyer, classroom, kitchen, garden, etc.)
    2. Or Shalom will develop opportunities for recognition of a wide range of contributions to our community including time, service, precious or sacred objects, etc. 
    3. For the upcoming building renovation, Or Shalom will ensure that monetary and non-monetary contributions are equivalently honoured by displaying our community’s history in a visible way. (See suggestions below.)
  1. Alignment
    1. Or Shalom will consider our community values when determining which organizations/donors to seek out for funding relationships. 
    2. Or Shalom will not offer name recognition (i.e. names of buildings, rooms, etc.) to donors whose actions and values clearly contradict Or Shalom values, as determined by the Board.

Suggestions for Recognizing Community Contributions

To date, donations of important items such as art and sacred objects have been recorded in the Book of Gifts, a records book that is kept in the sanctuary. The recommendation in Principle 1c is to expand on this with a visual display that people will see without having to seek it out – in other words, that balances the visibility of major gift donors with a more visible telling of the community contributions to the history of Or Shalom. The existing book might be placed near or incorporated as part of this display.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of some of the ways the community contributions might be recognized as called for in Principle 1a-b:

  • Offices and classrooms (smaller spaces) named to recognise non-monetary community contributions, e.g. founding members, beloved elders, etc.
  • Create a community history wall display or other visual art project that tells the stories of non-financial contributions including acts of service and the origins of sacred objects
  • Create an artistic display of engraved plaques for smaller financial contributions (examples abound in other synagogues – for example shaped like a tree with names on the leaves)
  • Naming of trees
  • Acknowledgments in siddurim
  • Plaques on the back of seats
  • Engravings on bricks or pavers in a courtyard, external building wall, or outdoor art piece