The question from the article that inspired my post was, ‘What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?’ Since 1915, the organization that I work for has been well known in Ottawa as the Christmas Exchange. In 2011, the charity did an amazing thing. There was another charity in Ottawa that ran a back-to-school program and they were no longer able to sustain it. They asked the Christmas Exchange to take it on, and the organization decided to start helping those in need at another key time of the year.
The problem they faced was this – how do you fundraise for a back-to-school program with the name Christmas Exchange? The solution proposed was to create an umbrella name for the organization. At this point, the Caring and Sharing Exchange was born, and the Christmas Exchange became one of its programs, along with the new Sharing in Student Success Program.
While this was a good solution in theory, it brought two problems with it. First, the reason behind the name change was not explained properly to many older donors who had been giving for years or even decades. As a result, many assumed the charity had ‘ditched Christmas’ in order to be more politically correct, which tainted the organization across the community and the effects of this are still felt today. Second, the new name is still not well known, and it is pretty hard to carry 96 years of familiarity over to a new name.
This is a charity that was created during the First World War to help families of soldiers who were away fighting during the holidays, a charity that celebrated its centennial just last year, and many people who knew the Christmas Exchange still do not recognize the new name when they hear it.