A Clear Branding Strategy is What Every Nonprofit Needs

March 9, 2021

Originally published on January 7th, 2020. Updated for March 9th, 2021.

When you’re running a non-profit, a branding strategy is essential, even if
you may have dozens of other things occupying your time and attention. You’re making a difference for your cause, after all! Fundraising and distribution are the core of what you do. But it’s important not to focus on those things alone. You need a clear nonprofit branding strategy, too.

nonprofit branding strategy: person placing a missing piece to a stack of wood. Missing piece is labeled "branding"

Why Branding Strategies are Crucial

Most people tend to think of brands as companies that sell goods and services. Recently, nonprofit organizations have begun to realize the importance of branding as well. A brand isn’t who or what a company, product, or organization is. It’s what people think when they hear the name of any given product, company, or organization.

Take Goodwill Industries, for example. You already know a lot of information by hearing the name or seeing their logo. You know this organization cares about putting people to work. You know they own thrift stores to help fund this mission. You know they offer job training and placement. You know they care. It didn’t happen by accident — they have a great nonprofit branding strategy.

Yet there are countless other similar nonprofit organizations we’ve never heard of. Where is their funding coming from? How are they raising the money they need for their mission? If you were to ask someone to donate to an organization, what kind of response do you imagine you would receive?

If people don’t recognize you or what you stand for, they’re not likely to part with their hard-earned cash. They don’t know you, so they don’t trust you. You must create a clear image of who you are and then present that image with confidence and consistency. People should see your logo, hear your organization’s name or glance at a social media post and know that’s you.

How to Develop Your Own Nonprofit Branding Strategy

A good branding strategy takes time, research, and devotion. Collaborate with all members of your organization. Also, work with your supporters to define your identity. Find your target audience. Make your mission statement clear and concise.

Other items you’ll need to consider include:

  • Logo and graphic development
  • Options for personalizing donations for your supporters
  • Social media and email campaigns
    • What do you want them to look like?
    • What message will that look give possible donors?
  • Finding innovative ways to do something different from everyone else.

A good and clear nonprofit branding strategy doesn’t happen overnight. After you develop it, compile your defined style into a branding style guide. Make this guide accessible for everyone working for the nonprofit. Refer to this guide as you introduce your organization to the world. Remember to always be consistent. It won’t be long before people will come to know and trust you.

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