Years ago, I began doing branding consultation for non-profit organizations. It seemed like a niche market ripe for my services. Non-profits, after-all, seem to struggle endlessly with building a strong brand for themselves. I found out the hard way that such strategy often hasn’t even crossed the radar for many organizations. How many non-profits can you name that aren’t national icons already, like the American Red Cross, March of Dimes or The Salvation Army? There are likely hundreds, if not thousands of non-profit organizations in your community without such brand recognition, and many reasons why they struggle to become household names, even within a local service area.
Maybe the staff is spread too thin already and don’t have the bandwidth to shift gears, especially into an arena that’s not their expertise. Maybe the budget can’t accommodate “marketing” expenditures or “consultant” fees. Or maybe the brand, though struggling, already exists and change is daunting and unwelcome. These are all common themes at non-profits, but consider the opportunity missed by delaying a true focus on the organizational presence created through branding.
A non-profit organization that surely knows itself, where it wants to go, and exhibits that in its logo, marketing material, website, and social media is, if nothing else, relevant. This matters because these are the tools used by the Executive Director, Development staff, and Program staff to “sell” the organization’s worth. They sell it to potential donors. They sell it to potential partner organizations. They sell it to corporate sponsors. They even sell it to program recipients, job applicants, and yes, competitors. They sell this relevance so that the organization is top-of-mind among everyone that could be interested or affected by its work, and first in line when opportunity knocks. All of those constituents, from service recipient to corporate sponsor, want to be associated with relevance.
Build the tool set. Be relevant. And solidify your non-profit’s presence and impact in the community.
Further reading: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge
Neal Anderberg works with organizations, coordinating outreach efforts, strategizing partnerships, evaluating brand effectiveness, and advising on management and fundraising efficiency. He enjoys sharing knowledge and insight, but thrives on collaboration, and is passionate about helping others use their passion to make an impact. Check him out on LinkedIn.