Naming Rights

The advantage of a new building is that it provides a visible and long lasting monument to the generosity of your supporters. This gives the golden opportunity to leverage support through naming rooms, areas or even the whole building, after supporters. Not all donors will be interested in taking up such an opportunity, but for many it provides a wonderful mechanism for securing a donation and building a long lasting relationship The issues to consider when offering the naming rights include:

• The cost of naming
• Permanent naming rights or offered for a period of time
• Reputation
– Cost of Naming

It is obvious that you should seek to get the maximum possible donation in return for a naming opportunity. However, it is counter-productive to set the cost too high and thus reduce the number of donors able to take up the opportunity. In reality, it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve 100% of the costs of an area through naming it; one well known university, for example, aims for 50% of the total cost, but recognise the need for flexibility and often accept 30-40%. You should create a list of all the areas which are available for naming, ranging from the whole building down to the smallest room, and attach a guide price for each areas. It is useful if the prices match up with the size of donations you need in your Gift Table. i.e, if your Gift Table tells you need 10 donations of £10,000 and 3 of £25,000, then – if possible – you should have at least 10 naming opportunities at £10,000 and 3 at £25,000. Similarly, there is little point setting the cost of naming your building at £2 million, if the largest gift you are likely to achieve is £500,000; it simply becomes a wasted opportunity. The prices should be considered guides only, and decisions considered on a case by case basis, depending on the donor and the importance of their support.

Permanent vs. Fixed-Time agreements
Offering a naming opportunity, gives a wonderful reason to maintain contact with the donor, through regular updates on the use of the area and invitations to visit. However, like everything else, there will come a point when the shiny new building you opened to great fanfare is in need of refurbishment, and it is at this point that the difference between offering naming rights in perpetuity or for a fixed length of time – say 15 or 20 years – becomes apparent. If you have named the areas for only a fixed length of time, and assuming that time has elapsed before refurbishment is needed, there is nothing to stop you offering the naming rights to a new donor. Clearly, if you have already given away the naming rights for the lifetime of the building, this opportunity to use the same to attract further support does not exist. However, if you have successfully built a relationship with the donor – and where relevant their family – then they would be your first port of call to refurbish. After all, they are likely to be far happier having their name attached to an attractive and up-to-date area than a run-down building. Having a major area named after a particular donor could also form the basis to discuss legacies with them. Part of the reason for naming a building or area within building, is to create something which will outlast them. You could, therefore, consider discussing with them the possibility of leaving a legacy with the express purpose of ensuring the upkeep and use of the areas they have named.

Naming a building or a room firmly links your organisation with the donor. You therefore need to be very careful about who you agree to such an arrangement with. On a very simple level, for example, a Children’s charity would probably avoid naming their new building after an alcoholic drinks or tobacco manufacturer! More of an issue arises if someone who has named an area of your building, later damages their reputation and become someone who you would rather not be associated – for example through criminal or unethical activity. In these cases you need to weigh up the damage to your reputation of removing their name with that of remaining linked to them. It may be wise to build into any legal paperwork the option to rename the area should the organisation’s reputation be at risk.