Naming Opportunities: 4 Tips to Interest Major Gift Donors

Fundraising Practices

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Naming opportunities are a tried and true method of raising funds and building long-lasting relationships with donors. A naming opportunity normally comes with a higher price tag. In exchange, donors are recognized publicly. Their name is displayed in a place of honor for all to see. It’s one of the ultimate forms of donor recognition. But how do you entice major gift donors to take advantage of naming opportunities? We’ve put together four tips to help you do just that!

Location, location, location

What’s the point of a naming opportunity if no one sees your name? The first step in getting major donors interested in naming opportunities is to show them where their name could appear. Naming opportunities work best if the location of the building, plaque, or other structure is publicly accessible, well maintained, and the name can be displayed prominently.

Think like a realtor when it comes to pitching your organization’s naming opportunities. It’s all about location! Not only should the location be beautiful, it’s also worthwhile to choose locations that are easy for the donor to visit. Why name a building after yourself if it’s too far away to go see? Because you’re asking for significant sums of money when making a naming opportunity ask, you should tailor your pitch to the major gift donor. Consider where they live, their mobility, their likes and dislikes, and even favorite colors! Then show them naming opportunities with these things in mind.

Offer a variety of naming opportunities

Not all naming opportunities have to be for an entire building or structure. While these high dollar naming opportunities have the greatest potential for large gifts, your nonprofit can create additional opportunities to honor your donors at lower giving amounts. Have you seen gardens, buildings, or other structures with engraved bricks and pavers? Offering the option to permanently make a donor’s name part of a new structure during a capital campaign is enticing to a lot of major gift donors. The best part is, you can also open naming opportunities up to those giving medium-sized gifts, too!

In addition to offering engraved pavers, there are many other naming opportunity options. Some additional naming opportunities include donor recognition walls, engraved benches, room naming opportunities, tree plantings, and more! The possibilities for naming opportunities are limitless with enough creativity. With enough variety, you can attract naming opportunities in ways that appeal to more than just major gift donors. For major gift donors who don’t want as much public recognition, it’s also good to offer options that aren’t as grandiose as their name on the front of a building. This is what makes engraved bricks and pavers so popular! Your donor’s name is still represented, but it appears alongside many others, so it stands out less.

In the example below, the Beacon Group is using a Qgiv event form to offer engraved pavers around their flagpole plaza. They mention purchasing these in honor of a family member or someone who has helped the donor, and even include impact information about what the donation can do.

One famous example of a naming opportunity using customized pavers was Disney World’s “Walk Around the World Pavers.” On display near Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs for decades, these pavers were a great way for Disney guests to display their names at the theme park.

Create an unforgettable experience

Offering a naming opportunity is more than promising to put a plaque on a building. Naming opportunities are the ultimate chance to show donors how much you appreciate them. When a major gift donor gives to name a building, structure, etc. after themselves or a loved one, honor that support. Commit to making the donor part of the conversation. Keep them informed of what’s going on surrounding their naming opportunity. Let them know when you’ve placed the order for their plaque. Let them proof the engraving. When it’s time to install it, plan a date and time the donor can be present. Encourage the donor to invite guests, and ask your staff to attend the unveiling ceremony to show their appreciation.

When possible, the CEO of the organization should be prepared to say a few words of thanks. Offer refreshments if possible and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Be sure to document the occasion and assure the donor their gift will be remembered as part of the history of your nonprofit.

To encourage future major gift donors to take part in naming opportunities, capture the celebration on video or with photos, and write a blog post or newsletter story about the event. You can even interview the donor and ask why they supported your organization with a naming gift. Be sure to ask what the naming opportunity means to them.

Sharing their story may be what convinces someone on the fence about supporting your nonprofit in this way to take the leap!

Be transparent about the opportunity

Transparency is important. It’s especially important when talking about naming opportunities. Donors will want to know if their name will be displayed permanently or for a limited time. They’ll also want to know all the options available to them and what they cost. Naming opportunities usually involve larger gifts. Your major gift donors deserve to know the conditions of the naming opportunity before committing to the gift.

Being transparent extends beyond being honest about what the donor will receive at each price point. Like any donation, your donor will want to know what you’re using their gift for. If the naming opportunity is part of a capital campaign, this is obvious. Naming an existing building, however, means donors can’t see their donation in action. Commit to being honest about how those funds will be used. If possible, include the donor in the discussion. If you run different programs, let the donor choose the causes that speak to them and direct funding to those programs.


Naming opportunities offer major gift donors a tangible benefit to supporting your nonprofit. The success of your naming opportunity program depends on creating a great experience around naming opportunities for your donors. It’s also about offering a variety of ways donors can leave their mark on your nonprofit.

Tailor your naming opportunity pitch to your donors individually. Use what you know about your donor to offer naming opportunities that have the greatest degree of value for them. Create an unparalleled unveiling event so your donor talks about it with their social circle. Share their story with other major gift donors to encourage additional naming opportunity gifts. When offering naming opportunities, be transparent. Tell donors every detail of your naming opportunity program. Let donors know how you’ll use their funds. When you treat your major gift donors with care and listen to their wants and needs, you’ll get more interest in naming opportunities.

Not sure who to reach out to about naming opportunities? This guest post by Sandra Davis from Donorly shares 6 clues to find major gift donors in your database!

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