Named gifts: Part 5

By Todd Cohen

With pressure growing to raise money, charities are looking for creative ways to develop new naming opportunities.

Public television, for example, “has been very good at doing underwriting where somebody could get their name on a program,” says Janet Hedrick, a consultant working with 10 public television stations throughout the United States to develop major giving programs.

At a recent planning session she held with officials of WUSF in Tampa, Fla., the development staff talked about the possibility of naming endowments to support the salary of an executive producer, finance a documentary or buy new equipment.

“It’s looking at those things that can make a difference in your organization and how you can package them to be attractive for an individual donor,” says Hedrick, senior associate in the Arlington, Va., office of Minneapolis-based Bentz Whaley Flessner.

And a broader range of naming opportunities can help generate larger gifts than donors otherwise might make.

“It’s not going to be the thing that makes a donor decide to give,” Hedrick says. “It’s more likely to be the thing that gives them the motivation to give more.”

Some charities do not focus on naming opportunities as a fundraising strategy, but use them to recognize key donors.

After receiving a donation of 66 acres in nearby Parke County from the Zangerl family last October, the Central Indiana Land Trust in Indianapolis asked the family how it wanted to name the land.

“Naming is not a tool that we as an organization have used to create gifts,” says Heather Bacher, executive director. “It’s a perk, an added bonus that recognizes their contribution, but it’s not a motivating factor.”

Naming also can involve the delicate act of keeping multiple donors happy.

At Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, which recently completed the $5.5 million first phase of a capital campaign and now is preparing to launch the second $5.5 million phase, four local banks each wanted to make a gift of more than $100,000 to show their support of the community, says Donald Baril, vice president of development and community relations.

“It was somewhat more difficult to make sure each was given an equal opportunity for the gift to show their generosity by the location of the naming opportunity,” he says.

The solution was to place their names, respectively, in four high-traffic areas in the Ellsworth, Me., hospital.

“A deal has to be good for everyone,” he says. “At one point, we’ll be going back to those good folks to ask them to help us again, in our case sooner rather later.”

Other stories in the series:

Part 1: Charities, donors play name game.
Part 2: Process for soliciting naming opportunities begins early. 
Part 3: Setting right price for named gifts a key issue for charities. 
Part 4: Charities use naming opportunities for fundraising leverage.
Part 6: Charities aim to avoid gift-naming pitfalls.

Part 7: Gift-naming a strategic fundraising tool for charities.

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