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What’s in a name? Big money for nonprofits.

In recent years, colleges, hospitals, museums, theaters, and social-service charities have begun offering their naming rights for new buildings, programs or other capital projects up to the highest bidder. While that’s nothing new — for decades, big donors were honored for big donations – namings generally transpired discreetly. Today it’s a much different approach for many nonprofits.

It is not uncommon for a nonprofit involved in a capital campaign to list naming opportunities with price tags online. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, fundraisers feel that this is a natural evolution of the digital age. Donors expect to find fundraising information online. It also gives contributors a sense of how big a project is and how their gift will help bring that project to fruition.

Supporters also see listing naming opportunities as a win for transparency and a way to empower donors. After creating an inventory of naming opportunities online, one university followed up with a direct mail and email campaign to inform alumni. The university received “purchases” of naming rights from several alumni who were not on their radar as potential major gifts donors.

Nonprofits who are taking part in offering online naming rights are netting big results.

Critics, however, feel that doing so turns the transaction into a sale rather than a philanthropic gift. One opponent quoted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy reiterated that fundraising is best when it’s individualized and personalized.

To read “As Menu of Naming Rights Expands, Fundraisers Pitch Options Online,” visit The Chronicle of Philanthropy website here.

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