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October 23, 2021

Naming a building after yourself cheaper in the recession

This recession’s proven a tough time for the wealthy.

Yeah, they’re still sopping-wet with money, but the rich have seen their fortunes shrink. Country club benefits have been trimmed. Private jets have given way to unbearable first class flights. Trust funds have evaporated to mere millions.

But, hang on a second, let’s not break out our violins for the well-to-do just yet.

There is something that, economy in the toilet and all, they can get now for the cheap. And it’s the one thing many of them desire.

Because donations have largely dried up during the downturn, the cost of philanthropy has apparently decreased.

And according to Bloomberg, the lowered “price of immortality” – read: giving a ton of money to get your name on a hospital wing or Harvard research lab – has given the prosperous more shots at cementing their legacy.

“Organizations are scrambling to attract money out of a smaller pool,” one source told the news site, which notes nonprofits and universities are likely to be more lenient with how much “donors have to give and how long they have to make the payments in exchange for recognition.”

For example: the list price (apparently there’s a database for this kind of stuff) for naming rights on the entrance to the nature boardwalk at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is $1 million.

Now, would-be philanthropists may be able to get that for about 20% less.

While it’s not exactly a fire sale for the rich and famous to become immortalized – “Nothing is going to go for 10 cents on the dollar. This isn’t a bottom-feeder business,” another insider told Bloomberg. “There’s just more flexibility now to make you immortal.” – it does make you wonder if institutions might have become a little too malleable in light of the economic conditions.

Like, for example, what if on top of taking less money for naming rights, they do away with background checks on the people, too? Money is money, they might say.

We probably won’t find whether that’s happened for a few years. But know that if you someday have to rush across town to the Joe Francis Emergency Room because the Spencer Pratt Trauma Centre was full, things probably went a bit too far here.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money 



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...