Donor Bench Programs

A New Approach to Fundraising

Fundraising is a challenge for any nonprofit, whether it’s raising money for operating expenses, sponsoring an internal project or funding research, scholarships or grants. Organizations often seek new and creative ways to appeal to potential donors. For those lucky enough to have a physical location (building, campus, park, etc.), there is an opportunity to create programs that allow donors to commemorate loved ones by purchasing an item in their honor. This could be a brick on a pathway, a wall plaque or our favorite—a bench.

Since its founding, Country Casual Teak has worked with a variety of nonprofits to support their donor bench programs. While all are structured differently, these programs allow individuals to "purchase" a bench including a plaque displaying a dedication, a quote or simply a name. This bench becomes part of the grounds or indoor space for a defined period of time.



Parks, museums, arboretums, universities and hospitals have all benefited from these types of programs. Donor bench programs become a source of funding. Some organizations charge a yearly fee, while others allow donors to have a multi year lease on a bench. The sponsored benches aren’t just a revenue opportunity; they bring utility to the space. No matter where they are placed, the benches provide seating for guests while they visit and a place where they can relax and reflect. Lastly, the program fosters a special connection to the place where the bench resides. Donors develop a sense of loyalty and pride to the nonprofit and love sharing their bench with family and friends.

We have enjoyed collaborating with nonprofits on these programs and understand how important it is that the benches and plaques we supply are of superior quality that will last for years. We have been touched by the donors and their stories and take great pride in seeing how much the benches mean to them.


Starting a donor bench program is easier than you may think. The first step is putting together the “package” to offer to potential donors. We make a variety of teak bench styles that can be engraved or display plaques with messages. Many of our clients select a specific bench collection that complements their physical space so that it becomes the standard. The timeframe for ownership of a bench is another aspect to think about. We have seen a range from five to ten years. Such a timeframe often depends on the level of donation.

Once the program’s terms are defined, it becomes all about the marketing. Many clients outline the program on their website and in their member magazine to help build awareness. The Arboretum at Penn State is a great example, with a Memorial and Commemorative Gifts section of its site. It includes an innovative finder in which one can search for and see the bench for a specific honoree.

For more best practices when it comes to starting up a Donor Bench Program, please reach out to us at 1-800-289-8325.

Engraving and plaque on teak benches