Update: Should I Keep Naming Names?

The poll results are in!

In a recent blog post (“Do You Know How to Take Criticism?”), I explored the ways in which we can all deal with criticism more effectively. I also asked the poll question:

When critiquing a nonprofit organization or its fundraising appeal, should I name the charity or provide it anonymity?”

For a number of reasons, which I outlined in my post, I have generally named the charities that I have critiqued. As you might guess, I’ve been criticized for this from time to time. So, I conducted the admittedly unscientific poll, and I promised to be guided by the results moving forward.

Here is how readers responded:

  • Yes, keep naming names. = 48.52%
  • No, do not name the organization. Instead, give them anonymity. = 37.87%
  • I really do not care one way or the other. = 13.61%

In other words, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62.13 percent) either want me to keep naming names or do not care one way or the other. Looked at another way, just over half (51.48 percent) of the respondents feel that I should stop naming names or simply do not care one-way or the other.

In light of the poll results and comments, I will continue to name names for the most part. I realize that no matter my decision, I would not be able to please all of my readers on this issue. Regardless of how you feel on the subject, just know that I take the issue seriously and will continue to strive to be responsible and courteous with my future posts.

When I intend to write a critique of a nonprofit’s actions, I will generally reach out to the organization prior to publishing the article; I’ll do this to alert the organization and to give it the opportunity to comment. If I’m writing about a nonprofit already in the news for a particular issue, I may or may not contact the charity prior to publication.

The issue of naming names is a complex one. I do not take it lightly. The issue becomes even more complex when I’m critiquing an organization that I personally support. So, I greatly appreciate the feedback I have received that will allow me to chart a course forward with enhanced confidence.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

7 Comments to “Update: Should I Keep Naming Names?”

  1. Hi Michael, Interesting results! The soft side of me cringes for those named, BUT I think when a critique is posted and doesn’t use the name, many more people might wonder “is this us”?

    Recently I saw a Blog (from someone else) where the name was ostensibly omitted, but it was clearly evident to Toronto dwellers who the errant charity was. I also felt that the critique, in that case, was a tad unfair. It was the worst of both worlds, and made me realize that if we were critiqued I’d want the writer to let us know, and be upfront about it, so we could respond in an equally transparent way. Those are my thoughts at the moment! — Jill

    • Jill, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m with you regarding mean-spirited analysis. I strive to avoid unfair critiques. On those rare occasions when I start to stray off-course, my wife always steers me back. I’m always seeking teachable moments. Sometimes, that means sharing a positive analysis. Other times, it means writing about someone’s stumbles. If we can learn something from someone else’s missteps rather than our own, I think that’s a good thing.

  2. Yes, Michael, I appreciate the seriousness with which you take this issue. I am in the “name the name” camp because it helps us understand what some of the problems might be. Naturally, I may not feel that way if it happens to be an organization I work with or support. But I think it helps us all learn more about how to improve and get better results.

    • Danielle, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s a complex subject. All of the feedback I received gave me a chance to reflect more deeply, and I appreciate it greatly. In the final analysis, I’m interested in doing what will help the most people in the most meaningful way possible.

  3. I’m reminded of a meme attributing this line to George Carlin: “Everyone appreciates your honesty, until you’re honest with them, then you’re an a**hole.”

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