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What’s in a name ? Think you know these nonprofits ? Take this quiz (firefly mention)

Sunday 12 October 2008, by Webmaster

When it comes to their names, Austin’s nonprofit groups are all over the map.

There are the obvious ones: Austin Children’s Shelter. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Capital Area Food Bank.

Others go less literal: Foundation Communities. OneStar. Citizen Schools. CommonThreadz.

And then there’s the Austin Browncoats.

"We do get a number of people who wonder what our name means," said Beth Nelson, chairwoman of the local nonprofit, which raises money for charities devoted to ending violence and discrimination.

Nonprofit groups’ names are important. They create a first impression, can attract donors and pull in potential volunteers.

But finding a good name can be tricky.

It has to attract attention and reflect the nonprofit’s mission in some way, said Jeff Hahn, president of TateAustinHahn public relations firm. It doesn’t have to be obvious, he said. But it does have to evoke some kind of emotional response, curiosity or interest.

One name Hahn likes: Coats for Kids.

"There’s some cleverness to it," he said. "There’s a very clear understanding of what it does, and that understanding creates a reaction which makes people buy into it."

Another name Hahn likes: United Way. The moniker evokes images of teamwork, collaboration and sharing, he said.

"It’s a brilliant brand," he said.

So how do philanthropy folks choose names for their nonprofit groups?

For Austin Browncoats, the name reflects its founders. Browncoats are fans of the sci-fi television show "Firefly." The nonprofit is a national organization, and its chapters perform work supported by "Firefly" creator Joss Whedon.

So does the name get in the way of attracting supporters? Nelson said she hopes not.

"I would hope that most people are intrigued," she said.

So let’s put some names to the test. Take the following quiz to see if you can figure out what these nonprofit groups do.

1) Foundation Communities:

a) Gives homeless men in Westlake something to believe in

b) Provides low-income housing and other help for needy people

c) Builds homes using teams of volunteers

2) OneStar:

a) Tracks stolen vehicles and unlocks your car door from 1,329 miles away

b) Promotes solar energy

c) Provides grants, training and support to nonprofits across the state

3) Citizen Schools:

a) Teaches 2-year-olds how to spell the word "citizen," then forces them to take a TAKS test

b) Provides after-school programs at local middle schools

c) Trains students for future leadership posts in Washington

4) Common Threadz:

a) Auctions off Bedazzled jeans to promote mediocre singers

b) Teaches people how to make their own clothes out of lint

c) Raises money to buy school uniforms for children in Africa

The answers: 1) b, 2) c, 3) b, 4) c.