Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's In A Name?

Guest Blogger: Amy Sinykin, Special Projects & Operations

I’ve been thinking a lot about names recently. Not actual detailed names but the process of naming something. Names are so important. The name of a child can impact his/her entire life. And, just last week, my neighbor and I were discussing how my new (but used) car didn’t fit my personality. It’s gray…like 80% of the other cars in our parking lot. I began to think that I needed to align my car with my personality by giving it a name. That’s some kind of power, the naming process.

Yet, in my ruminating about the naming process, I clearly remembered that names don’t always tell the entire story. My husband and I named our daughter Brooke. It’s a nice name, but our family knows that 99% of why we named her Brooke was because my husband loves to fish for trout, brook trout. Every time we see a brook trout, we are happily and warmly reminded of something we love. (Sometimes it’s, well, trout. And, sometimes it’s our spit-fire little 2 year-old.)

Just yesterday, I realized that this ability to describe who we are through a name can be even more powerful with charities. A very nice, well-intentioned woman called me because she wanted to give to an organization that supported individuals with breast cancer. She had received a call from an organization that sounded perfectly appropriate. But, she took a moment and decided to call the Council for more information. So, I looked up charities using the key word Breast Cancer. (In our research, we found more than 200 organizations with breast cancer as key words.) Can you tell the difference between these two organizations based on their name?



Upon further research, the caller and I realized that clearly, names don’t always tell the whole story. Let’s look at some of the fairly simple financial information from the Minnesota Attorney General’s database.


  • To offer emotional and spiritual support to those battling breast cancer, as well as their family members and friends.
  • 3 Year Average of Charity Expenses: 19.5% Programs, 80.5% Other = (13.9% management + 66.6% fundraising )
  • Total Revenue in 2006: $1,749,251


  • To save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer and by providing funding for free mammograms for needy women
  • 3 Year Average of Charity Expenses: 79.9% Programs, 20.1% Other = (13% management + 7.1% fundraising )
  • Total Revenue 2007: $6,204,686

There is always so much more to a name than just a name. (And, no name yet for my car. Suggestions welcome.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fundraising in the Workplace

Check out the recent Pioneer Press article “Charity or Shakedown” about fundraising in the workplace. Is on-the-job fundraising a blessing, an annoyance — or a subtle threat? What do you think? What have you encountered in your workplace?