Latest Thinking Regarding Naming Opportunities

Naming opportunities are a key component in fundraising for major gifts. Organizations associate donor names with campus-based spaces, programs, funds and faculty positions. The science of using naming opportunities to motivate giving — and using strategy and policy to manage possible risks — is evolving. Heurista has been studying advances in cross-departmental coordinationrecognition policy, and design guidelines. We've gained valuable perspective by working with different types of institutions all across North America.

Here are a few highlights from what we've learned: 

  • The return on investment for permanent public donor recognition (plaques and displays) lies more with the institution than with the donor
  • Organizations offer naming opportunities for physical spaces as well as virtual assets such as funds, programs and faculty/staff positions; there is a marked disparity in how these namings are recognized and how the donors are stewarded that can be corrected by providing public recognition for all naming opportunities
  • Planning for change through large format print, electronic media or other means brings renewed life to facility-based recognition; these elements are infrequently used in conjunction with naming opportunities resulting in a necessarily "static" outcome that is less engaging for frequent viewers
  • Better storytelling makes the resulting outcomes more meaningful for all audiences
  • Documented policies, procedures and design standards expedite the workload and make the outcome more brand-specific
  • Most institutions have substantial gaps in their policies and procedures for setting naming opportunity values, negotiating design and record-keeping regarding gift and recognition agreements

In recent years, several institutions have faced the need to remove a donor name from a campus facility. The renaming of a residential college at Yale is one of the most well-documented instances. Yale has provided a great service to all donor relations and stewardship professionals by sharing the report resulting from their analysis of the situation. It outlines specific principles to guide the renaming process and is definitely worth the read.

For a deeper dive into strategic donor recognition practices you may also want to read Anne's full-length article in the Journal of Donor Relations and Stewardship"A Call for Donor Recognition Strategy". The article addresses the broad array of activities that fall under the heading “donor recognition” and suggests how the categories of donor recognition best align with organizational goals. 

Naming opportunities will be covered at several presentations Anne will give in 2017.  You can find the Stewardship Closeup: Naming Opportunity slides from this presentation on our Publications page on the website.

Posted By ANNE MANNER MCLARTY · MAY 30, 2017