How to brand a nonprofit

Good post by Geoff Livingston on Only One Kind of Branding Matters:

Only one kind of branding matters, and that’s the customer experience…. You can manufacture as much messaging as you want, but if your brand promise doesn’t meet the customer experience then your efforts will fail. Fast.

That’s why so much nonprofit branding is such a dismal failure. It doesn’t (or can’t) do the real job of being the donor’s experience. It’s just a bunch of wishful thinking in the from of design and copy guidelines.

If the donor’s experience with the organization isn’t what it should be, the outward appearance doesn’t make any difference. In fact, advertising wisdom is that excellent advertising only accelerates the demise of a bad product.

If you not an organization whose beneficiaries and donors are the same people (such as an arts organization, a hospital, house of worship, etc.) the best and almost only thing you can do to make donor experience great is have a thrilling call-to-action and amazing reporting back that keeps proving to donors that their giving does what you say it does. That and flawless service.

That’s the branding that makes a difference.


Comments

4 responses to “How to brand a nonprofit”

  1. Agree 100%. It’s why I wrote about how nonprofits must do marketing today from outside/in rather than inside/out. http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/06/5-reasons-why-nonprofit-marketing-must.html#more It truly is all about the customer experience, so we’ve got to strive to understand that experience. Flawless service is important. Also, providing information/programs/services that are relevant. Our donors see a need and seek, through us, to fill it. If we don’t see the same need as they do, we’ll never connect or fulfill our brand promise.

  2. Agree 100%. It’s why I wrote about how nonprofits must do marketing today from outside/in rather than inside/out. http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/06/5-reasons-why-nonprofit-marketing-must.html#more It truly is all about the customer experience, so we’ve got to strive to understand that experience. Flawless service is important. Also, providing information/programs/services that are relevant. Our donors see a need and seek, through us, to fill it. If we don’t see the same need as they do, we’ll never connect or fulfill our brand promise.

  3. Glad you found the post useful. I think NPOs really need to think about this from the perspective of volunteers, donors and advocates. These three stakeholder groups often have the most engaged individuals serving in multiple functions, volunteer and fundraiser, etc.
    What is their experience across the roles? Do you treat volunteers like crap, but donors like gold? What does that say?

  4. Glad you found the post useful. I think NPOs really need to think about this from the perspective of volunteers, donors and advocates. These three stakeholder groups often have the most engaged individuals serving in multiple functions, volunteer and fundraiser, etc.
    What is their experience across the roles? Do you treat volunteers like crap, but donors like gold? What does that say?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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