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Naming Rights

Naming Rights

Apple, Olive, Valor, Shooter, Blue Ivy, and Moon Unit are all baby names selected over the years by the celebrity crowd. There never seems to be a shortage of creative flair in the A list circles when it comes to naming rights. I think it is universal that we all want to select names that evoke a special meaning.

Back in 1987, I was pregnant for the first time and like all new mothers I wanted the perfect name for my baby. I spent hours pouring over baby name books and made lists of both boys and girls names so I would be prepared no matter the gender of my new bundle of joy.

My first-born was a girl and I named her Brittany Scott. I thought I was probably the first person to come up with such a spectacularly original name and carried that fantasy with me until little Brittany hit preschool and at least half of the other little girls in her classroom had been bestowed with the same not so unique name. Once my Brittany caught on to the trend she decided to change her name to Britt which suited her personality and made roll call much easier. For the record, I still think it is a beautiful name.

There are very few times in our lives we have the opportunity to name things. We name children, pets, boats, companies and random personal possessions. The power to name is the power to assign qualities to things and to people. In his lecture The Power of Naming, Dr. Thomas J. Gaspue, professor of English at the University of South Dakota, states, “what we call people and what we call places reveal the ways that we feel about our ourselves and how we relate to other people and our environment. “

It has been quite a while since I have had the opportunity to name someone or something. I am not expecting any more children or pets and I realize that even when grandchildren arrive on the scene my adult children and their partners will make those exciting decisions.

But recently I have noticed a trend at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation that puts me fully back in touch with naming rights. When Foundation donors establish a customized fund designed to help them make an impact on our region, one of the steps is naming the fund. Over the years many philanthropists have named endowed funds and foundations after the family. We think of big foundations like Rockefeller and Gates that are named after their founders. But more recently I have noticed Southwest Florida donors making a shift to highlighting the causes and issues they support. They don’t necessarily want all the attention to be on their names, but rather using their ability to name the fund as a platform to bring attention to an issue in our region.

Just last week , local philanthropists John and Kappy King were in our offices to set up a fund that will support mental illness causes in our community. We had been working with them for over a year to design a customized fund that would accomplish their goals for supporting the work at Hope Clubhouse, a local nonprofit that offers opportunities for meaningful work, education, friendships, and access to housing in a supportive, caring, dignified and respectful community. Kappy has served on their board for years.

Both John and Kappy have been long time mental health advocates in our region. This cause is personal to them and they wanted the cause to not only be reflected in how their funding was directed, but also in the name.

They brought up the fact that if the fund was named the John S. and Kathryne A. King Family Fund, unless people knew their passion for mental illness advocacy they would never realize what the fund signified and supported.

Just like naming a long awaited child, John and Kappy considered the name of the fund, and decided on The John S. and Kathryne A. King Fund for Mental Illness, not mental health, but rather illness. “We thought that if maybe we did a little more to remove the stigma around mental illness, and illustrate people taking action, maybe more people will join us in this quest in Southwest Florida,” said John.

I enjoyed watching them name their fund. In the same way we understand that a child will carry the name we give them long after we are gone, the named funds at the Community Foundation will last in perpetuity, for generations to come, along with their funding. And, with a little luck and a lot more support, just maybe people will learn more about mental illness, research and find better treatments and develop better programs to mainstream those affected by it.

Each fund is as creatively unique as the people who name and establish them. What’s your cause? If you’d like to name your fund and start giving today, or to plan your fund for after you’re gone, just contact me. I can be reached at [email protected] or 239-274-5900.

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More