Named gifts: Part 7

By Todd Cohen

Large gifts give donors an opportunity to shape their legacy and the causes they care about, and charities should be prepared with gift-naming strategies to help donors make the most effective use of those gifts, experts say.

“There’s no limit to the reasons why naming opportunities are important, and it is up to us as development people to try to probe and to understand what the needs of the donors are and to try to fulfill them,” says Donald Baril, vice president of development and community relations at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth, Me.

Planned giving, for example, represents the “opportunity for donors to make the largest gifts they ever will make to charitable organizations,” says Tim Seiler, director of public service and The Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

A planned gift opens the door for a naming opportunity, but also requires that charities be “very good stewards of donors’ intent and interests,” he says.

“The donor has to recognize that if he needs a certain portion of the assets for the balance of his life, there could come a time when the remainder of assets after death are inadequate for the naming opportunity they’ve discussed,” he says.

Janet Hedrick, senior associate in the Arlington, Va., office of Minneapolis-based Bentz Whaley Flessner, says named gifts give charities both the opportunity and responsibility to involve donors in their organizations and help them see their impact.

“When people give, they want to feel connected and that they belong, and we’re giving them ownership of what they’ve accomplished and done,” says Hedrick. “You can’t get much more connected to an organization than owning part of it.”

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 5: Charities look for ways to package gift-naming opportunities.

Part 6: Charities aim to avoid gift-naming pitfalls.

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