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donor naming rights for small charities with Vincent Duckworth

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Offering a naming right opportunity to donors can be a daunting process. From making the right offer to negotiating the terms of the naming, how might we think holistically and act strategically about it? On today’s episode, Vincent Duckworth, seasoned fundraiser and CEO and President of the ViTreo Group, reframes our fear and worry around donor naming rights and provides practical advice on how to manage this process, regardless of how big or small your organization is.

Myths that Vincent wants us to leave behind

  1. Naming rights only benefits the donors. Having a major donor’s name on a campaign or program can help drive momentum to the campaign and establish credibility for the program.

  2. Donors who want naming rights only care about visibility. Many donors actually don’t care about visibility as much as they care about impact. Understand every donor’s unique needs and design the naming right opportunity to meet those needs.

Vincent’s tips on managing donor naming rights

  1. The property you associate the donors names’ with is a reflection of the relationship. The more tangible the named property is, the more that it shows you value the relationship. For example, a physical donor wall reflects more permanence in a relationship than a virtual donor wall.

  2. Be adaptable with your recognition strategies as your organization evolves. There is no one golden rule that is always right when it comes to naming right opportunities. When your organiatin starts out, it might make sense to provide more donors with naming rights. As your organization grows, you can also decide whether or not to reserve naming rights to be more exlcusive.

  3. When confirming naming terms, be aware of the impact it has on the communities you serve. While it might make sense to limit the naming rights’ to a term, for certain programs, sustaining stability and longevity is important and changing their names from time to time can have a negative impact on your community. Engage your community in the process if possible and be aware of the impact it has if you need to change the naming of a program, an offering, or a property.

My favourite quotes from this episode

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“In the nonprofit sector, some organizations suffer from thinking that their brand is not as important as those in the for-profit sector. And that’s just not true. But we don’t realize this until we make an abrupt change like renaming a property or program without talking to the community. Be aware that naming things has an impact on community dynamics.”

“Sometimes, donors like naming right opportunities that are only seen by program recipients and staff. They do this not because of ego and not because of brands. It’s about making people know others care.”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Find Vincent at ViTreo Group

BrainTrust Philanthropy Podcast