Named gifts: Part 2

By Todd Cohen

Charities thinking about naming opportunities as a fundraising strategy need to recognize that placing a donor’s name on a building or program involves a long process and a lot of work, experts say.

The process should begin in the embryonic stage of a fundraising effort by identifying possible naming opportunities, pricing them and lining them up with prospective donors, they say.

The first step in a capital campaign, for example, is to “determine the readiness to raise money,” including an internal study on staff expertise, volunteer leadership and the case for support, and an external study to determine whether the constituency and market are “ready and wiling to support a capital drive,” says Tim Seiler, director of public service and The Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

Organizational readiness for a campaign, he says, requires a “compelling need that the constituency understands and accepts.”

Specific prices should be assigned to the largest gifts as part of a gift table or pyramid that shows the number and size of big gifts the campaign needs to succeed, he says.

And those gifts need to be directly linked to naming opportunities, Seiler says.

The external study will include confidential interviews with donors who can be asked if they would consider making gifts with naming opportunities, and if they would identify other prospective donors who might make such gifts.

“What you have to do is an inventory of naming opportunities, where you sit down and place some value on each element,” says Donald Baril, vice president of development and community relations at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, Me.

“It’s like having a store,” he says. “So when you’re talking to a donor about a gift, you can say, ‘We have some naming opportunities.’”

Other stories in the series: 

Part 1: Charities, donors play name game.
Part 3: Setting right price for named gifts key issue for charities.

Part 4:Charities use naming opportunities for fundraising leverage.
Part 5: Charities look for ways to package gift-naming opportunities.

Part 6: Charities aim to avoid gift-naming pitfalls.
Part 7: Gift-naming a strategic fundraising tool for charities.

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