Charities urged to consult key audiences before changing name

Donors, volunteers and beneficiaries should be consulted before a charity changes its name, a new report warns. It also says the best charity names are “memorable, inviting and can’t be shortened.”

‘What’s in a Name’, the new free report from charity research consultancy nfpSynergy, tackles the issue of whether charities should go ahead with a name change. It calls for charities to ask key audiences rather than just trustees or internal audiences what they think of a new name and to fully investigate the potential long term rewards it could bring.

The report highlights several reasons why charities might want to change their name, including names being too easily confused, too generic or unacceptable in today’s society as language and attitudes change. It also looks at the key attributes of a new name, which include being internet search-friendly and self-explanatory.

Although sometimes a divisive and complex process, many charities have changed their name before and it’s a decision many more will go on to face. The report says the main challenges include difficulties in pleasing everyone, the amount of work involved and the short term hit in awareness and possibly donations in favour of longer term gains.

After a carefully considered decision process, charities should put someone in charge, do the groundwork, go at the right speed and invest fully before they decide to go ahead.

nfpSynergy’s Driver of Ideas, Joe Saxton, said:

“A name change is a huge decision for a charity. Getting it right can secure the long term future of a charity and generate a boost in awareness, reputation and ultimately income. Getting it wrong can be an expensive disaster and too often the decision is made without the proper care or research.

It is not a decision to be taken lightly, but as attitudes in society change and competition in the sector grows, it’s one that will face a range of charities and they must be ready to deal with it effectively.”

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What's in a Name

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