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Blackbaud CRM™ Naming Opportunities: Ups and Downs

Considering using Naming Opportunities in Blackbaud CRM™? Traditionally our plaques, professorships, and building initiatives are managed in multiple spreadsheets and online. Keeping the recognition opportunity catalog up to date and available for donors and fundraisers is a real chore. If you are considering using the Naming Opportunity features in CRM, you can shift the effort from external spreadsheets to your system-of-record, and take advantage of some of the hidden features of this tool.

Let’s briefly go over the features of the Naming Opportunity record, and then consider the “Ups” or benefits, and “Downs” or drawbacks of implementing the tool:

What is a Naming Opportunity, anyway?

The Naming Opportunity in CRM is a record that references the recognition options we have for our highest-level donors. We may offer to hang a plaque at the entrance to a named lecture hall, affix a nameplate to a lectern, chair, or bench, or honor a staff member with a named position at the organization.

The Naming Opportunity record in CRM contains the following information about these options:

  • Type of recognition option

  • Physical location of the room, bench, etc

  • A primary contact person at that location

  • The number of available items (i.e. 3 benches in a courtyard, or 100 seats in a lecture hall) from which to draw upon

  • The qualifying gift level

  • Donor(s) who have reserved or received recognition for the Naming Opportunity

  • The installed location of the plaque or dedication, and the exact wording (very helpful when donors come for a visit!)


One great thing about Naming Opportunities is that you can decide to use them after go-live. A lot of organizations “table” the decision until their users have had a chance to work in the system, making this one of the more flexible functions under consideration.

  • We can associate our Naming Opportunities directly with a Fundraising Purpose in CRM. This allows us to funnel payments toward the fundraising priority, and report on the dollars raised

  • We can also associate Naming Opportunities with Campaigns in CRM, allowing us to report end-to-end on fundraising priorities, dollars toward the goal, and stewardship efforts

  • Entering data into CRM gives us a chance to collaborate across departments, and share up-to-date information without needing to compile spreadsheets and hold meetings

  • The data within CRM can surface easily on a BBIS webpage, so we can publish the full catalog and trust that any reserved Naming Opportunities will not appear

  • We reserve Naming Opportunities at one of three levels in CRM:

  • The Constituent level - sometimes useful if we offer this is as stewardship option for a donor’s lifetime giving

  • The Revenue level - useful if we need to receive a substantiated pledge or the first 30% of payments before beginning stewardship


Some of these are not really drawbacks, but instead, considerations during implementation:

  • If including the catalog on a BBIS web page, you’ll need to invest a bit of effort to build the part and publish the page. Testing refresh timing and data transference is important to making sure the page remains updated

  • I always recommend configuring a page to help manage the catalog within CRM. Out-of-the-box, CRM does not have an easy way to see the entire catalog, counts and what remains, or donors who have reserved Naming Opportunities, all in one place. The good news is that this can be a front-end configuration, and does not require a customization.

  • You will need to invest some effort in the beginning, to enter the data initially if you are already live on CRM. There is no easy import batch template to help you here, unfortunately.

  • Once the data is in, reserving the Naming Opportunities for donors is a manual activity. We can support better workflow using page configurations, but there is not currently an easy way to import the reservations.

  • Take a look at the way your organization structures Fundraising Purposes (aka The Designation Hierarchy) and Campaigns in CRM. This will help you understand how to support strong reporting that provides relevant and insightful information about fundraising priorities.

  • I don’t always recommend using Naming Opportunities for high-volume recognition options, such as bricks or stadium seats. Instead, I suggest managing those differently because of the manual nature of CRM’s Naming Opportunities.

  • Handling staff positions as Naming Opportunities (Named Chair, Professorship, Fellow, Lectureship) may or may not work for your organization. Because there is no location and nothing to hang, install, or dedicate, some of the functionality the the Naming Opportunity does not apply. Other records may be more useful, such as the Campaign Subpriority.

The decision to move forward with Naming Opportunities is not as straightforward as it may seem. Taking a step back to look at the benefits and considerations may offer a better perspective on the decision. You can also give it a try in a non-production environment, and get a feel for some of the data entry effort and possible configuration needs.

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