You can probably recall names of organizations that either made you want to learn more or failed to grab your attention. The name an entity selects for itself is so important – it is often the very first piece of information you get about the organization, and you may repeat that name a lot over time.
Our name, the Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc. (BGF), dates to 1966 when both the BGF and the Garden were founded by William L. Hunt. The BGF may have been the first nonprofit in the country to support a public garden, so a more descriptive name may have been deemed unnecessary at that time. But starting in the 1990s, the outside world started to change.
First, other nonprofits were founded whose name included the words “botanical garden foundation.” In our region alone, Moore Farms, Lewis Ginter, and Daniel Stowe have all created charities named in such a fashion. By comparison our name started to seem a bit unhelpful, prompting questions like: Which garden do we support? Do we support more than one garden? And what is the exact nature of this relationship?
The internet has only amplified these questions. For example, charity review websites are hugely influential with many donors; they start with a general cause in mind and then review charities within that space on sites like Guide Star and Charity Navigator. These sites not only provide information and assign ratings on various effectiveness criteria, but allow one to compare nonprofits against each other. Again, the non-specific nature of the BGF name made the donor work harder to learn what we do. Some didn’t bother.
Here’s another reason for the name change. We’re totally aligned with the institution we support, so repeating the Garden’s name in our name affirms this close connection and, consciously or not, says we act as one, moving in the same direction.
Of course, we are a separate organization, managed by an independent board of directors, and that latitude allows us to provide services to the Garden it could not easily provide on its own, such as holding lands for conservation, receiving individual donations, holding the Garden’s endowment funds, and more. It’s a great partnership.
So in the spring 2018 board meeting, the BGF’s board of directors unanimously voted to approve a change in the organization’s name to the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc. We think this simple act of adding the words “North Carolina” to the front of our name clarifies our mission and opens new doors for the Garden. The NC Secretary of State’s office approved the change this summer and you’ll see the new name more and more as we update various print and digital media.
So please welcome the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc. into the world! You can still call it the BGF if you want – it’s the same organization, with the same bylaws, governance structure, and mission. It just got a little bit better.
President, North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc.