What’s in a Name?

November 8, 2018



Written By: Peggy

By Peggy Vinson

For many organizations embarking on a capital campaign, naming opportunities are used as a tool for donor recognition.  Often we find that this process of determining values for naming rights brings up questions for the nonprofit leaders.

Here are some things to think about when you are developing naming opportunities:

  • Naming recognition levels are tied to value of the opportunity, not to the cost of construction.  How do you define value?  It’s visibility, traffic, historical value and size of the space to be named.
  • Naming rights aren’t forever.  Each situation is different, but as a building is significantly renovated or expanded, naming rights can be reconsidered.  Whenever possible, outline these limits in the original gift acceptance letter.
  • Naming a building or room isn’t just about seeing your name up in lights. It’s also about honoring someone special, offering a memorial to those who have gone before, and reminding future generations of the heritage of your organization and your organization’s founders.
  • Several donors can work together to secure a naming opportunity.

It’s important to remind donors that, even if they don’t care about recognition personally, public acknowledgment of gifts makes a statement about a nonprofit’s support level.  The donor has an opportunity to inspire others to consider their own giving.  And it reminds everyone who visits the facility of the generosity of all those who made it possible.  This applies to the recognition for the annual major gift donor as well.

So what’s in a name?  A chance to tell a story.  A way to remember the past even as you build the future.  It may even be the seed for a future gift!

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2 responses to “What’s in a Name?”

  1. John C Alexander says:

    Excellent advice, Peg….and I especially like your closing paragraph about recognition. I have used that thought many times when others bring up large donors and egos. Tom Crays, a former local bank president, was a generous supporter to many local charities, including our Danville Y, and he schooled me many years ago about this very thing. Seeing his name on a donor wall or plaque was not important to him. What was important was any inspiration for sacrificial support that his name might offer to others.

  2. Peggy Peggy Vinson says:

    Thanks John. I think we often forget that the recognition is not just for the donor!
    Have a great day!