Do Nonprofits Need a Strong Brand?

Strong brands are not just important for companies in the private sector. In order to truly connect with donors, nonprofit organizations need to develop a robust brand too. The challenge is that some organizations do not fully understand what a brand is (it is not simply a logo or mission statement), or they neglect their brand, believing their mission alone is enough to influence potential supporters. The challenge is that there are thousands of nonprofits with compelling missions.

How does a nonprofit organization stand apart and compel potential donors and supporters to act? By creating a brand identity that aligns the organization’s external image with its mission and values, and is distinct from other organizations it may compete with.

How do you accomplish that? Research. Research. Research. Staff, lay leaders, donors, service recipients, and others, must be asked the right questions. Competing organizations must be carefully assessed, too. Once that information is collected, a true brand can emerge.

Strong brands must start with a clear, consistent, creative, and compelling message. Marketing pieces such as a website, and fundraising efforts, such as a direct mail campaign, video, or case for support, should work to support that message.

When marketing your nonprofit via social media, direct mail, newsletters, and videos, utilize your brand message and focus on the stories of those you support, as well as the impact of your efforts. In doing so, you will create an emotional connection with your audience and help them to understand where their support is going. In turn, you will inspire them to become true partners who want to make a difference in a cause they believe in—your cause.

Doing work that benefits the world is admirable, but in the long run, it will be challenging for an organization to sustain its efforts unless potential supporters truly understand what an organization does, why it’s different, and why they should care. Without question, implementing a strong brand foundation, followed by a strategic fundraising effort, can make a noticeable difference in the amount of support an organization receives.