Ten things you should know about branding your nonprofit

January 19, 2012  

So define your experience and apply it everywhere. Whether you know
it or not, you already have a brand. It’s how you look and talk to your
community, donors, employees, and volunteers. So make sure you’ve
defined what your organization stands for and how you communicate it.
Once you know that, you can deliver it consistently across all platforms.
And that’s what makes an experience.

A powerful point of view told across multiple touchpoints:
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption PSA, Posters, and Web

All nonprofits have a common goal: raising money. And you can’t get
people to give money unless they want to take action. And they won’t
take action unless they’re emotionally touched. Branding tells a story
and reaches those people. So if you don’t have your story down, you can’t
reach your goal.

Authenticity is about alignment. If you communicate your true self—
who you are as an organization—you attract the right people: people
who are passionate about your brand. They get hooked and stay with
you longer. And that takes less time and fewer resources.

Instead, create happy donors who feel good about giving, and they’ll
be sure to give time and time again. Studies show that the greatest
motivation for giving is happiness. You may be able to guilt people
into giving once, but you won’t be able to do it twice.

If you look and sound like everyone else, you’re communicating
that you are like everyone else. So set yourself apart. Develop
your own identity and own it. Be fresh. Be interesting. Be engaging.
Be different. Be you.

A fresh look for a legacy nonprofit:
Blue Grass Community Foundation

Create focus. Define your organization’s key audiences and make
a plan for how your messaging and tactics shift to address each of
them. For instance, you should have different messages for current
donors and future donors. And those should be different from the
messages you send out to opinion leaders, businesses, and media.

Defining a clear need to a specific audience:
Women’s Fund of Central Ohio Grant Partner Video

Whether you have a team of 100 or 1, set your organization up for
branding success. Create a toolkit that states what your organization
stands for. Include guidelines on the elements of your brand: your
logo, your voice, your graphic style. Add good examples of your
communications, and then pass this toolkit out to anyone who has
a hand in creating your brand.

Even more important than your visual appearance is your voice.
You’re competing against other great organizations for donor money,
so be sure you’re communicating in a unique way. You’re different,
so sound like it. Determine what makes your voice unique, then use
it everywhere.

We hate to break it to you, but people don’t read lots of copy.
They’re more pressed for time than ever. Content must be scannable
and digestible. Details must be clear. But don’t overload readers:
always offer a place to go for more information.

Are you being clear?
Are your messages getting through?
Do people know what you stand for?
Are you breaking through the clutter?
Does the community understand the value you bring?