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MoneyCapital Campaigns: What's In a Name?

So, Mr. or Ms. Big-Time Fundraiser. Think you’re ready to launch your capital campaign? Let’s see.

You’ve done the internal planning and have run all of the numbers.

You’ve developed a compelling campaign case.

You’ve conducted a successful campaign feasibility study.

You’ve identified and cultivated your top prospects and candidates for campaign leadership.

Good…so far. But the big question is: do you really have the guts to move to the next step, which is…Board authorization? Soliciting the lead gift? Recruiting the campaign chair? All quite important…but let’s get serious. Each of those is a piece of cake compared with the dreaded, terror-provoking process of (shudder): Selecting The Campaign Name.

We’ve all witnessed it: campaign staff locked away for hours…days…weeks in windowless rooms wallpapered with fiendishly scribbled-on flip-chart sheets. Daring souls venturing forth with a timid “Hey…I’ve got it…what about…?”, only to be pelted with office supply projectiles. And then finally coming up with a name, only to be sent back to the drawing board by some sadistic trustee proclaiming “I don’t know…it’s not jumping off the page at me…”

Sure, some institutions have it easy. They’re naming their campaigns after a spurious milestone, e.g., The 50th Anniversary Campaign (although why prospective donors get so jazzed-up about round-numbered anniversaries has always been kind of mysterious to me. Nevertheless,  they do, so far be it from me to argue with them). And some others schools, especially have the option of selecting an especially meaningful phrase from the institution’s motto or alma mater.

But for the rest of us ordinary humans, naming the campaign is a daunting, painful enterprise that can make grown-ups weep like kindergartners on the first day of school.

That is, until now.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, as a service to the entire fundraising community, we bring you… “The Campaign Name-O-Matic System.”  Developed over a period of decades by a task force of semi-inebriated researchers, “The Campaign Name-O-Matic System” translates a complex, proprietary nomenclature algorithm into a highly user-friendly “one from Column A”-type format. The result: the ability to generate every conceivable generic campaign name…at a savings of billions of man-hours.

Ready? Here it is.

The Campaign Name-O-Matic System
ambiguous, but stirring verb or noun optional filler preposition optional vague adjective vague, feel-good object
Advancing

Building

Challenge

Commitment

Creating

Endowing/Endowment

Establishing

Expanding

Extending

Fulfilling

Investing

Leaders/Leadership

Making

Moving

Partners/Partnership

Preserving

Promise

Realizing

Renewing

Restoring

Saving

Securing

Sustaining

(The) Campaign

Vision

A

For

For A

For The

In

In A

In The

The

Toward

To

Better

Healthier

More Promising

New

Our

Safer

Stronger

Century

Children

Community

Dream

Excellence

Families

Foundation

Future

Home

Lead

Leadership

Legacy

Mission

Partnership

Potential

Promise

Tomorrow

Tradition

Vision

World

[Insert Name of Your Institution]

Give it a try. But I warn you: be careful. “The Campaign Name-O-Matic System” is a powerful and potentially dangerous tool. Keep it out of the hands of the kids, and utilize it wisely and carefully, lest you end up with names like “Vision For A Better Vision,” which only works if you are seeking to underwrite a ridiculously pricey strategic planning process…or if you are an ophthalmologic institution.


About The Author:

*Steve Manzi is a Senior Managing Director specializing in capital campaigns in the Fundraising Division of Changing Our World Inc., a leading fundraising and philanthropic services firm combining innovation with sound fundamentals.

You may contact the author at: smanzi@changingourworld.com

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