Service of a Famous Name: 21st Century Fundraising & Avery Fisher
November 17th, 2014
Categories: Fundraising, Lawyers, Music, Uncategorized
I’m terrible at remembering names of people and places although those I’ve heard for eons–like Avery Fisher Hall [photo right, below]–fall off my tongue. When I read about how Lincoln Center was planning to attract the mega funds it feels it needs to update the hall my keyboard beckoned.
The Broadway World news desk wrote: “In a milestone philanthropic agreement that will help ensure the future of one of the world’s iconic performing arts spaces, the children of the late Avery Fisher – Nancy Fisher, Charles Avery Fisher and Barbara Fisher Snow – today joined with the leadership of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to announce that they have entered into an agreement to enable the renaming of Avery Fisher Hall.”
Danika Fears wrote in the New York Post: “After threatening to sue, Avery Fisher’s heirs agreed to let the performing-arts organization drop his name in exchange for $4.5 million more than the original $10.5 million the Fisher Electronics founder donated back in 1973.”
Some colorful example of inflation, no?
Fears continued: “Now Lincoln Center can tempt another well-to-do donor willing to sink serious money into a planned $500 million overhaul in exchange for their name being emblazoned on the building.”
I wish someone with that kind of money would give it, ask the Fisher children to return the $15 million to Lincoln Center and leave the name as-is.
I have issues with the concept that to attract big bucks an institution must offer the naming option, though this is beside the point and a distraction to the current situation.
I wasn’t tickled with Avery’s children for accepting money in this regard. Plus I’m surprised that the Fisher lawyers didn’t make it clear, when the original donation was made, how long the hall would sport Avery’s name and/or under what circumstances it could be erased. This move doesn’t seem like such a great precedent for attracting the next big donor: “Give us multi-millions and we’ll chip off your name when we need another injection of cash.” And what about the loss of branding and cost of new stationery, new domain name and so on?
I like the idea of donating money in the name of someone else–a deceased relative, a good friend. I’ve done this myself.
How do you feel about Lincoln Center’s fundraising techniques? If you had the money, would you name an institution after yourself or, in the example of a performance space, the name of a worthy industry celebrity or maybe someone who isn’t famous like your wonderful Uncle Joe?