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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Naming Rights

Right vs. Wrong

Right vs. Wrong

The line between acknowledging sponsors and selling out

Markkula Center Staff

Healthy Lunches is launching its latest initiative of supplying underserved Bay Area schools with healthier eating options. One year from program launch, Healthy Lunches is behind in its fundraising targets. A corporate donor who supported the organization in its early days has a proposition for Jim, its CEO.

The company will cover half the cost of the new imitative, but the company’s name must be included in all marketing materials: “Healthy Lunches sponsored by Company X.”

Fifty percent amounts to a substantial amount of money and would alleviate most of Jim’s and the board’s concerns with fundraising for the initiative.

Jim is concerned that this would be “selling out” to corporate interests and losing sight of the organization’s mission. There is also a concern that even the perception of mission drift would make fundraising the remaining funds harder to come by.

The board meets next week. Should Jim push the board to accept the donation?

Discussion Questions

Is the corporate branding of the initiative at odds with the nonprofits mission? If so, how?

Does it matter if the company is only donating for the brand exposure from being associated with the initiative?

Would accepting the donation help or hurt the nonprofit’s ability to raise the remainder of the funds?

Sep 13, 2016