Elkhart, Indiana's family and child advocacy agency, long known as CAPS, is keeping its acronym but has changed its name to Child and Parent Services (you'll see that CAPS hasn't updated its website with its recent name change). Even so, theirs is a great model of an effective nonprofit name change.
The prior name, Child Abuse Prevention Services, came from a decade-old shift in focus to preventing child abuse (in the broadest sense possible). But CAPS staff members found that, time and again:
- No one knew what the acronym stood for
- When they heard the full name, they didn't understand that programs are open to everyone, not just those who are abuse victims
- They were put off by the stigma attached to 'abuse'.
When the marketing agency hired to implement the name change suggested that CAPS lose the acronym, the board was concerned. They wanted to lose the negative stigma but didn't want to lose the strong recognition (of the acronym) held by community members. So they decided to create a new name that would fit into the same acronym… Child and Parent Services.
Staff and board members are now using the name change news to spread the word, both formally and informally, about what services CAPS does and doesn't provide.
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