After more than eighty years, the National Playing Fields Association is changing its operating name.
This was not a decision that our trustees took lightly: the NPFA has a history and a reputation of which we are proud. But times change. Most people nowadays think of trade bodies when they hear the word Association; and we are interested not just in playing fields, but in all open spaces for all sorts of recreation. Yes, of course we still care very much about sports pitches, but we are also involved in children's play and informal recreation.
There are other reasons, too, for the change. In the past, we have not attracted financial support from the corporate sector. By their nature, companies operate in a competitive and contemporary market, and evidence shows that we are more likely to attract them if we are seen to do so too. Similarly, public funding from agencies such as the Big Lottery Fund seems to go to organisations which appear to be keeping up with the times. Our old name suggested that we were not, and reactions to Fields in Trust have been encouraging.
We needed a new name that reflected the new reality - a name that would represent us effectively in the increasingly competitive world that the charitable sector has become. Recent work by the Economic and Social Research Council has shown that good branding can have a significant effect on how charities perform, how donors view them, and on the income that they attract. We can not afford to be left behind.
We were particularly concerned that the name should signify the transforming effect that our fields can have on people, both individually and collectively. Some of the names put forward were good, but none of them rang any bells or inspired us - until Chris Ambler from WARL, who has been a great friend to the NPFA, suggested Fields in Trust.
This chimed well with everyone. The reason we exist is to hold fields in trust; FIT is what people become when they use our fields; FIT is what our own lean and efficient organisation has become. FIT for purpose; FIT for the 21st century; FIT for the future.
We are not lodging a new name with the Charity Commission: instead, the new one will be used, as our operating name, alongside the old name for the time being.
And what better way could there be to launch our new name - Fields in Trust, and 2,012 fields in trust?