McKinney launches ‘Names for Change’ to support Urban Ministries

Nov. 20, 2013 @ 08:17 PM

The challenge of homelessness can feel overwhelming, which is why Jenny Nicholson said she helped to create a new campaign that will allow people to help in lots of little ways.
To raise money for the nonprofit homeless shelter and kitchen Urban Ministries of Durham, Nicholson and others at the Durham-based advertising agency McKinney created a website where you can buy the naming rights to everything from bottles of deodorant or cans of vegetables, to a refrigerator.
Called “Names for Change,” the naming rights campaign is being launched by McKinney in partnership with the nonprofit. This is the second time the two have teamed up.
In 2011, the agency, which is now part of the marketing communications network Cheil Worldwide, partnered to create an online poverty simulation game “Spent.” At the end of the online game, payers had an option make a donation to Urban Ministries.
The idea came from Nicholson, who is McKinney’s associate creative director. She saw the project as an opportunity to combine creativity with her interest in social action. She holds a master's in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She was inspired after playing "Farmville," a game on the social media site Facebook that simulates farming. “Spent” is still going, and gets about 5,000 plays a day, a spokeswoman said in an email.
Nicholson was also part of the team that created the new naming rights website along with designer Nick Jones and other, developers, producers and photographers.
The site has photos of the 169 items that are available for naming. Users who buy the rights for any of the items get a “certificate of authenticity.” The buyer is able to customize the certificate using their own name, the name of their organization, or in honor of someone.
“The challenge of ending homelessness feels so big, so overwhelming, that most of us don’t even try,” Nicholson said in a prepared statement. “With ‘Names for Change,’ we are showing people that changing lives doesn’t happen with one big effort, but with a million little ones, and that everyone has a part to play. Even the smallest donations have real impact for the people (Urban Ministries of Durham) serves.”
Patrice Nelson, executive director for Urban Ministries, said the campaign is coming at a good time.
“As our government cuts vital services, organizations like (Urban Ministries of Durham) must find creative, provocative ways to engage the community to help provide food, shelter and a future,” Nelson said in a statement. “Just as ‘Spent’ educated people about what it’s like to live on the edge of homelessness, ‘Names for Change’ will remind everyone that being homeless means losing more than just a home.”
Urban Ministries of Durham operates a community café that serves about 600 meals a day, a clothing closet and food pantry, and a community shelter. The website will help raise operating funding for the nonprofit.
“We hope the site will live and support (Urban Ministries of Durham’s) work to end homelessness far and beyond the holiday season though this is a great time to launch it,” Bryan Gilmer, a spokesman for Urban Ministries, said in an email.