Fundraising Drives: The Power Of A Name

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Fundraising drives with sizzling names raise more money. It’s a statistical fact. The name of your campaign, annual drive, or new program should be dynamic and memorable, and convey your values to donors and funders, and the passionate impact you seek.

Consider these successful names:

“Close to Home” is the name for the University of Connecticut’s UCONN Foundation Faculty and Staff Annual Drive which includes various direct giving options plus automatic payroll deductions. The name says it all and conveys the powerful sentiment of belonging, that faculty, staff, and supporters constitute a family.

“Second Show” is a thrift store that benefits Columbia Memorial Hospital near Hudson, NY. They are committed to serving the needs of individuals in their community in an atmosphere of compassion and dignity while raising much needed funds for the hospital. They reclaim and repurpose items that would otherwise be thrown away. Their name positively accents these aspects of who they are.

“Elevating The Collection” is a fun name chosen by the Shore Line Trolley Museum because they literally had to build two buildings at a higher elevation to prevent harm to vintage trolley cars from storms and flooding. Shore Line had never raised significant funds from their 1,100 members, but within two years of initiating the campaign their buildings were built and $2.5 M was collected.

How to Go About Choosing A Sizzling Name

As you think of and vet names, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it meaningful? Does the name support the values and heart of your organization?
  • Is it relevant? Is the name relevant to the key audiences you are trying to reach?
  • Is it distinctive? Does the name stand out?
  • Is it sustainable? Does it position you for growth, change, and success, or does it box you in?
  • Is it visual? Does it lend itself well to both graphic and text presentation?
    (Bonus) Is it modular? Does it let you build brand extensions in the future? Think FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, FedEx Office.

Run A Pilot

Testing a small group of pilot names is always a good idea. Choose your top five and share them with a select group of a dozen colleagues/friends/clients and ask for their confidential reaction. Pose some questions when you send the list of names, questions like: “What feelings does the name generate for you when you hear it?” “What does the name remind you of?” “Is the name memorable?”

Before you finally choose the name, check to see that it’s legally available. Also, you may need it to work as a domain address too, so be sure to search if anyone else is using it. If you are worried about someone else stealing it, for about $200 you can register it with local, state, and federal officials.
Naming something well is a substantial part of the roadmap of fundraising success. It lies at the intersection of fundraising and communications. It’s best to have that intersection well paved. Having a good name will help you raise the most revenue possible.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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