Recently, my colleagues, Darnell Hines of Wake Forest university and Mary Solomons of Skidmore College and I were featured in a CASE Currents article on naming opportunities entitled “The Naming Game” (it can be found on www.case.org). Naming opportunities can often be cumbersome for donor relations professionals, with plans varying from location to location and campus to campus. Sometimes, we even end up at locations that lack naming policies altogether, or as donor relations professionals are brought into the naming opportunity conversation too late in the process. Other unique opportunities also arise when one names spaces. What happens when that space is demolished? What happens when the purpose changes? What happens when the plaque goes missing during renovations? It’s not enough to have preemptive planning in place, as Darnell discusses so eloquently in the article. It is also essential to have a backup plan for when things don’t transpire so smoothly. What do you do when a name needs to be removed, how is the media and the donor’s family handled in these cases??
One of the most beneficial projects I completed in my time at Rollins College was a comprehensive named spaces listing and procedure. I had two of my wonderful student workers canvas the campus, taking digital photographs of all of the plaques, benches, trees, buildings, rooms, anything that had a name on it! We compiled and entered the data, including photos in an access database and liked the records electronically to the donors and their families in SCT Banner. It was a wonderful learning project, a great time for reflecting on processes past and present and helped us learn from victories and mistakes. Now the College has a comprehensive overview of what is named and what remains of older buildings and plaques. I eventually would like to do the same project here, although the scope is greatly different, at least tenfold of what we did there. Do you need naming policy documents or help with your projects? Comment here and let’s see how we can help each other progress…