Naming institutions and buildings as a form of donor recognition and acknowledgement of philanthropy is a tried and true fundraising practice. Carnegie Hall and the Guggenheim Museum are famous examples. Another form of naming facilities is sponsorship, which is somewhat different in that a company pays to put its name on a building as a form of advertising. Many stadiums and arenas are named in this way, providing a stream of cash flow to the owners of the buildings or the sports teams that play in them.
These fundraising techniques are most often associated with large, high profile buildings and institutions, but could also be used as a school fundraising idea. Here is how this fundraising idea can be organized:
Talk to your principal and get permission to name the school for a day, or week, or month or whatever. Once permission is granted, people can enter their names in a draw to name the school after themselves for the specified time period. The entry fee could be as much or as little as you think you would be able to sell. Probably between $2 and $10 per entry. You would have to decide if only one entry would be allowed per person or if a person could enter as often as they wish.
Entries could be sold in a variety of ways. Students in the school could sell entries from a table at the mall, carry entry forms with them and sell entries to family and friends, or set up a website and collect entries online. All entries would be placed in a large container and the draw made at a predetermined time. Be sure to check your local regulations about how contests can be advertised and what types of records must be kept.
Issue a media release to your local television and radio stations, newspapers and events websites. A media release is a one-page description to the contest. Submit a media release at the beginning of the contest, another to announce the draw time, and another to announce the winner. Invite the media to the draw and turn it into an event.
Once a winner is announced, you must honour your commitment to name the school for a day. Erect a temporary banner made out of paper or plastic with the person's name printed on it in huge letters and place the banner over the existing name of the school. If possible, do the banner in the same lettering as the existing name so that it will look authentic in a photograph.
Have a photographer take a picture of the person standing in front of the sign. Give the person a framed copy of the picture, send it to the media and put it on your website. Use the new name of the school for all announcements over the PA system that day. If there is a game during the time of the new name, use the new name for the announcements during the game. Use your imagination and you will think of many ways the name can be publicized.
This is the type of contest that can be run often, because there is a minimal expense and effort to run it. Of course, after a while it will not be a novelty and people may lose interest. But in the meantime, it may be a way to add some significant funds to your school teams, band or whatever group is fundraising.
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