Questions to ask when negotiating with potential patrons

publication date: Sep 2, 2011
This article first appeared in the July 15, 2008 issue of Canadian Fundraiser, the predecessor to Canadian Fundraising & Philanthropy.

When negotiating with companies or individuals for naming rights to a building or a program, there are a number of questions to be sure to ask and answer carefully, say Nicholas Offord, President, The Offord Group, and Carol Seidman, Director, Capital Campaigns, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

Speaking at Fundraising Day of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Toronto Chapter, they listed the questions as:

  • Who is the seller? Do they have legal and exclusive rights to the naming opportunity?
  • Who makes the decision on the final acceptability of the deal?
  • Is the recognition for the physical building or for the charity itself?
  • Is the naming time-limited or in perpetuity?
  • How much of the gift is to be endowed?
  • If endowed, are there any special limitations on investment strategy or payout policy?
  • If a legal agreement is to be executed, is the donor prepared to pay for the costs?
  • Does the deal require an advance ruling by Canada Revenue Agency's Charities Directorate?
  • Have the signage and location been approved by both parties (drawings, mockups)?
  • Does the proposed deal/signage require city/ministry approval?
  • Who pays for the cost and maintenance of the signage?
  • Is external signage exclusive of other donor signs?
  • What happens if the organization is shut down, moves, merges (successor rights)?
  • What recognition is the donor entitled to (ceremony, publications, newsletters etc)?
  • What reporting is the donor entitled to (written, verbal)?
  • What say has the donor in the future of the organization (boards, committees, search committees)?


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