hen you think of nonprofit marketing, does powerful branding come to mind? Although there are many requirements of running a successful nonprofit, you cannot forget about the importance of building a strong brand that effectively communicates to the community you serve and funders.
Before you can drive your audience to the desired action, your audience must:
● Recognize your brand.
● Understand the message your brand is communicating.
● Trust the message is authentic.
The ultimate challenge is to minimize the difference between:
What you want the public to think about your organization
and, What the public thinks about your organization
Think about your favorite corporate brands. What do those companies do that speaks to you? How do they make you feel as a customer? What makes you stay loyal to that brand? Branding for nonprofits is not much different. You must be able to speak to your clients and funders in a way that builds trust and loyalty.
These four strategies will help you get clear on what you want your brand as a nonprofit to be and help you build your brand with the audience you serve.
Be Unique and Compelling
When it comes to the brand of your nonprofit, you should start by communicating with your clients and funders the value that you provide and how you are different from others in your industry.
Know the specific needs you are addressing.
● Are you providing a service that no one else does?
● Are you providing services to a segment of the population that your funders care about?
● Will the services you offer have a positive impact on a community or an economy?
● Does your strategy deliver better outcomes per dollar donated?
This is mainly your value proposition – why a client should use your product or service or why a potential funder should donate to your organization. If there is nothing unique or compelling in your value proposition for donors, the donor will not decide to give to your campaign. However, if the donor believes that you are addressing a need that they care about, they will be more inclined to give to your drive.
Know Your Market
Once you are in a position where you can articulate how you are addressing a need, you have to know who benefits most from your products or services and what types of funders will get behind what you are doing. Research both your potential clients and donors to learn what they care about and how you can better connect with them to show them your value. This process is market research, and it should be a regular part of your product or service development.
Envision your ideal customer.
● What is the age of your ideal customer?
The causes that millennials are most passionate about may be very different from the causes that baby boomers care about.
● Where does your ideal customer live?
Individual communities may be more focused on making strides in sustainability where others may be passionate about eliminating hunger.
If you want to learn more about your clients and funders, the library is a great place to conduct market research. Your campaign will not be successful if you cannot connect with those who will benefit from your cause or support your cause.
Define Your Voice
An essential aspect of your brand is the voice that you use when you communicate. Effective communication requires speaking in a voice that your audience can relate to. Your voice is like a spokesperson. It is the personality and language of your nonprofit. It can be communicated with a logo, name, motto, commercial, or an actual spokesperson.
Think about your ideal client or ideal funder.
● What types of people are in their lives that they relate to?
● Would they want to hear from people who have shared similar experiences?
● Would they want to hear from a community leader? What about a statistician?
Defining a voice for your organization will lay the foundation for the content marketing strategy and help you translate your value proposition into messages and content that your audience will identify with and trust.
Deliver What’s Expected
Great brands build communities of loyal supporters by living up to what is expected of them. Start by being present and active where your clients and funders expect you to be both online and in person. Bring your product or services to where the need is. Attend workshops, resource fairs, and other events where you can show your value. Post useful content online or contribute to online forums and groups.
Design work processes that ensure you are consistently delivering what you intend to provide. Keep track of how you are doing and find ways to improve.
● Is your product or service meeting your quality expectations?
● How can you ensure great customer service?
● Is there anything that can improve in delivery time?
Stay engaged with your audience, so you are aware of your performance versus their expectations. Collect feedback to understand what your clients and funders think you do well and what they think your opportunities are. Compare that to an internal assessment. Be willing to continuously learn from your audience to best meet their need and understand if and when your customers’ expectations change.
Remember, the ultimate challenge in building a strong brand is to minimize the difference between:
What you want the public to think about your organization and what the public thinks about your organization.
Chavelle Patterson is an innovator, strategist, and a thought leader with experience in
performance improvement, operations management, and online marketing strategy. She is
passionate about helping professionals, entrepreneurs, and organizations build their brand,
strengthen their network, and make an impact on the community.
Phillip Adeniyi Sangokoya is an economic development professional committed to the growth of minority-owned and minority-led companies through strategic management consulting, business planning, and entrepreneurial development. Phillip serves as a volunteer management consultant for the Business Resource Association for Networking & Development (BRAND) of St. Louis, a social enterprise that promotes community development by fostering innovative collaboration and networking. Phillip has a passion for leveraging collective strengths of diverse groups for community programming and collaborative initiatives that benefit entrepreneurship, professional development, and community outreach initiatives within the community.