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Branding as a Nonprofit

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

What Brand Building Strategies Are Relevant for Nonprofit Organizations?

Brand building includes the activities associated with establishing and promoting a brand and it’s not just something for the for-profit world. The same strategies apply to nonprofits, no matter the organization’s size, budget, or audience they serve.

A well-developed brand can support and amplify the organization’s mission and raise resources, from fundraising, to gaining new volunteers and members. To successfully develop a nonprofit brand, consider incorporating the following strategies.

Brand Building Strategy #1: Keep Your Organization’s Impact Top of Mind with Your Audience

Being clear on the unmet need you focus on and how your programs and services uniquely create positive change is key to driving awareness and distinction from other organizations. While most people like to contribute to something that betters society, they also like to know how their actions, whether volunteering or donating, are making an impact. Giving detailed statistics how your organization has influenced your community will give donors or volunteers a more tangible reason to offer their support.

A great example of proving how a nonprofit is impactful is Crayons to Computers in Cincinnati, OH. Their mission is “to level the playing field in the classroom by providing students in need the tools to succeed in school” by providing their teachers with free supplies they would otherwise have to pay out of their own pockets to have in their classroom. Below their mission statement, Crayons to Computers states three statistics of how their work impacts the teachers and students that benefit from their services.

91% saw increased class preparedness
66% saw an increase in class participation
63% saw an increased interest in learning

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Crayons to Computers indicates not only the good that they hope to do in their mission but also how their actions have already made a difference, and why their work needs to be continued.

Brand Building Strategy #2: Develop a Story that Connects

We believe that how you solve a problem is your nonprofit’s mission, but why people should care is your nonprofit’s brand. Every nonprofit can tell a compelling story, and cohesively telling that story is the key to retaining your audience, both internally and externally. Consider all of your audiences when marketing your nonprofit to maximize your message:

  • How do donors, volunteers, employees, and clients play an integral part in creating a difference in your community?

  • Does your branding convey that everyone’s support and commitment is valued?

According to a survey conducted by Campaign Monitor and Qgiv,

“The use of powerful imagery and strong storytelling can inspire emotional responses.”*

The Karen Wellington Foundation is a nonprofit that tells its story through every action. Karen Wellington, who the nonprofit is named after, fought breast cancer for ten years. However, she did not let it stop her from living a fulfilled, fun life. Their mission now is to send “women and families living with breast cancer on special vacations, relaxing spa days, concerts and other fun-only activities,” that can take their minds off of their diagnosis or treatments.

Through every experience that is gifted, there is a piece of Karen living through it. For example, recipients become a part of the KWF family and are encouraged to become ambassadors, nominating others or volunteering, while corporate partners have the flexibility to customize fun programs that reflect their mission, vision, and values.

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Brand Building Strategy #3: Make Engagement Easy and Relevant

Appealing across generations of donors and volunteers is critical to ensure long-term support. Tailoring how you engage with each generation will enable an experience they find meaningful. For instance, Campaign Monitor and Qgiv found that email was the preferred method for communication for its more personal, human connection. “Nearly 42% of donors said they prefer to hear from a nonprofit via email from the organization, and 20.5% said an email from the organization would inspire them to give again.”* However, nonprofit professionals rated Facebook and events as preferred methods for staying in touch. While these communication platforms have merit, ensure your marketing efforts are multi-channeled to reach all potential supporters. Social media content should be created with the goal of having people share with their own communities and advocate for your organization.

Making it easy to give and engage is important especially younger generations. Given that mobile is a go-to resource for Gen Z and Millennials, VonLehman’s Nonprofit Group suggests “Making donation apps easy to locate and participating in popular mass fundraisers such as Giving Tuesday (the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving).”** People are willing to help, but desire a seamless user experience. Having a noticeable call to action such as a donation or volunteer opportunity link above the fold of your website along with a compelling headline about the need you address will make it easy for visitors to quickly engage with your website.

The Brand Evaluator is a joint venture of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design LLC and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building LLC. We work with emerging businesses to help them clearly and meaningfully convey their organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.



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