Brick Paver Programs: Lessons Learned

A paver program may be an attractive and relatively inexpensive way to raise friends, ensure good will and improve the surroundings at your institution...if the program is well thought out and streamlined so it is easy to perpetuate.

Large scale, ongoing paver programs were a fairly new trend when we began the paver park at the facility I worked, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, GA.  In the early 1990s, we initiated the program during the construction planning stage of a new wing adjacent to the hospital's main entrance.  The park was designed for the system to honor employee retirees and volunteers, as well as anyone that someone in the community wished to honor.  The opportunity was offered for anyone to purchase lettered pavers for any number of tribute purposes, including memorials, births, special events and more.  The program was marketed internally through emails and flyers and externally through the newspaper.  

Efforts resulted in over 300 pavers being ordered the first year.  The park has grown to nearly 2500 bricks, represents nearly $100,000 in fundraising and is in its twentieth year and still popular.  It is now marketed largely through the web with an online paver order form.

Design and Construction Planning

A paver program is often best begun at the time of new construction because the cost of preparing the location is often shared with other construction expenses.  Long term maintenance is an issue with pavers.  Tree roots under the bricks can cause them to rise up.  Should this occur, the pavers must be removed, the roots pruned and pavers re-laid.  Pavers should be installed in a smooth and level way so that they are safe to walk on.  Additionally, they should be cleaned occasionally, but water should not be allowed to stand on the pavers, as this will discolor them.

Fabricator Selection

It is important for the paver fabricator you choose to be a proven resource.  For the sake of continuity, search for a company that provides exactly the same size paver, lettering and infill with every order.  Ask about durability in your climate.  You'll want the deepest possible etching, a good epoxy infill and colors that will weather well, especially outdoors.  Some providers offer online tools for ordering pavers; this can greatly expedite the program over time.  

Pricing and Message Planning

Some programs include a broad range of messages while others are devoted specifically to a service line, campaign or project.  Births, memorials, anniversaries and simple loving messages are all attractive, just be sure to communicate the limitations based on the size of the paver and retain the right to refuse any message.  Gift amounts for pavers should be set with the overall goal in mind.  If the goal is to bring in a large number of new donors, the price may be set at a lower amount.  If, however, the demand will be high, or significant fundraising is the goal, a larger gift amount should be considered.  I know of pavers priced as low as $75 and as high as several thousand.  In setting the gift amount, be sure to include the cost of the paver, shipping and installation, as well as overhead for marketing and coordination of the program. 

Paver Locator System

A locator system to aid in finding individual pavers is beneficial, especially in large programs.   Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park has an efficient locator online.  Also, the newly completed locator at Phoebe Putney works well.  The one at Phoebe was installed many years after the inception of the paver park and required extensive photography and coordination with a grid to complete.  Though it is currently outstanding, we now know that establishing the locator is best done early.  Phoebe was lucky to have a volunteer, an astute college student, who photographed the bricks, numbered them in pods and provided impeccable records from which to work.  Also, the contractor for the building wing provided a grid of the park.  At that point, AVID Design, a firm that specializes in healthcare web design, took the numbered photography and grid and uploaded them, superimposing computer text on each paver to create the locator.  Bricks can be located by searching any word in the paver message.

Celebration Ceremonies

An annual or semi-annual dedication ceremony for new pavers is a good way to keep enthusiasm for the program high.  A souvenir program from Phoebe's spring event is attached below.  This particular facility also gives a flower to each guest at the event.  I was lucky to be able to attend the recent event at Phoebe and received my own retiree brick, shown below.  It was fun to be "on the other side".  It was not the first time I had been honored and I had purchased several pavers through the years, but I must say that though each experience felt special, this time I had no official responsibilities on behalf of the institution.  I felt had come "full circle".  To see the most up-to-date information, read more about this year's Spring Paver Dedication

Guest post by ANITA HUDGENS · MAY 2, 2017