Nonprofits and branding

Branding is clearly an important part of marketing, and from my past experience with nonprofit marketing, and from conversations with our president, I’ve learned a lot about how the necessity for nonprofits to have a great brand is actually greater than for the for- profits. Before we get into all of that, let’s start off with some basics: When one thinks about branding, what are they reminded of? Probably fortune 500 companies, huge advertising campaigns, millions of dollars in revenue and some sort of cuddly mascot right? But what if I told you that none of those details are part of the basic frameworks of branding?
A brand is invisible, it’s the idea that the company has behind the products and services they are promoting. According to Forbes magazine, a brand is simply “Everything the public thinks it knows about what your company is offering… both factual and emotional.”
So in actuality, a brand does not require a fortune 500 company, a huge advertising campaign, or even a single cent in sales. What an organization does need in order to have a brand is a strong idea to promote and an audience to promote it to.
So where do nonprofits fit into all of this? The value of brand commitment may be more directly correlated to the for- profit companies, but I’ve found that it is the nonprofits who should be valuing their brand commitment even more. Here’s why:
Nonprofit operations not only depend entirely on funding from others, but also on the breadth of their reach, both of which can be increased with good branding right? In my discussion with the president, he pointed out that there are so many nonprofits out there, and it’s easy to get “lost in the shuffle”, it is important to project a good brand in order to make your organization more memorable than the rest. I have found that having a good brand as a nonprofit is crucial not only to fundraise, but to raise awareness about the issue you are shedding light on as an organization, to peak the public’s interest and alert the community you are striving to serve about the resources you provide.
“But what makes a ‘good’ brand?” I asked our president. We discussed how every brand is different, but for nonprofits, it is important to have a compelling, accurate and memorable message about the idea you are promoting to the community. We also discussed that in order to demonstrate a “good brand”, it is necessary to divulge on what a good brand is, though it is much easier to show what a good brand does. Here’s a list of “Must do’s” I’ve compiled for a “good” nonprofit brand:


  • A good brand must build trust with the community, which is essential for nonprofits to fundraise and attract a community to serve.


  • A good brand must convey how you are serving the community: Even your own community won’t know the resources you provide until you tell them.


  • A good brand must help you become top of mind in your community. Every nonprofit strives to increase the pool of people they serve, which is much easier to do when your brand makes you top of mind in your community’s eye.


With all of that said, a “good” brand is necessary for the success of a nonprofit, but it also is important to keep a balance between building your brand and doing what you originally set out to do as a nonprofit organization: serve your community.


To every Nonprofit out there: we thank you and appreciate you for all of the work that you do.



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Posted in Nonprofits.

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