Thinking of your Non-Profit as a Brand

What is a brand?

What do you think of when you see golden arches?  McDonalds, right?  What do you think of when you see a red shield?  The Salvation Army, right?

These are brands that have been developed both in the “for profit” and “not for profit” world.  Every organization needs to have a brand to be successful.  Sometimes the brand is just for a small community or a large national or international organization, but it is equally important in reaching donors, volunteers and community.

Answer these two questions –

Can everyone in your organization, from the board through the volunteer team, easily communicate the mission and full story of your organization?

Can a donor easily track your “public face”? Website, social media, marketing content and regular donor updates?

If you answer no to one or both questions, you need to consider developing a better and easier message (we switch from ‘brand’ to ‘message’) for your organization. If you do not improve your message, the organization’s brand and identity will suffer and awareness will decrease. This will directly affect your ability to raise money.

Results of effective messaging will

Generate an understanding among donors regarding what your organization can do for them.

Provide the full capabilities of your non-profit to the donor community. A non-profit that provides housing, job training and other transition services will have increased fundraising potential if all three services are properly messaged.

Your starting point

Research and understand your organization from different perspectives.  Dig into the values, strengths, services and desired impact to the community. Focus groups are an excellent way to help gain new perspective.

Expand your research to a wide range of team members. Chat with board members, donors, community leaders, clients and/or alumni, volunteers and everyone in-between.

Organize your results into three questions:

What are our top organizational strengths?

What key points do we need to send in our message?

What will attract donors to our organization?

Craft your message

Your message needs to include the following:

Emphasize impact – Highlight accomplishments!

Differentiate your organization – what makes you different from similar organizations?

Cover the entire organization – if your non-profit has different services, ensure they are all highlighted.

Be compelling – the message should be emotional as well as informative.

It should become your elevator speech.

How do you craft your message?

Positioning – You need to communicate how you are different from everyone else.

Brand your values – Communicate what your organization stands for.

Attributes – Communicate your organizations key strengths.

Brand Statement – Communicate what your organization’s promise is and make sure this looks the same in all communications.

30 second pitch – In 30 seconds you should be able to convey the problem you are addressing and the impact on the problem.

Key Messages – This longer message helps build the case for helping and/or funding your organization. It provides more detailed perspective around the problems you are addressing and the impact you intend to make.

The Final Cut

Once you have finished all this work, you still need to package the message. How will the message work on the website, print material and other marketing collateral? It is acceptable to have slight variations of the message to fit different communication channels but the bulk of the message must be consistent and fit with the mission and vision.

The Bridge is your resource for many of the issues facing non-profits today.

Download our free Brand Assessment Checklist and let us help you rate your marketing efforts.

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