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Best Practices for Nonprofit Branding

The importance of knowing the best practices for nonprofit branding is to give a clear representation of who you are, what you stand for and why donors should support your organization.  

The word “branding” can sound off-putting in a nonprofit capacity, but branding is as important in the nonprofit sector as it is in the for-profit industry.  

All nonprofits will face the challenge of standing out and differentiating themselves from other organizations, but establishing your nonprofit branding is a way to help you stand out from other nonprofits who may have a similar mission.  

The components involved in nonprofit branding include everything from the people you choose to hire, to the colors you pick for your logo – and beyond that. It’s important to establish branding in the early stages of developing your organization in order to create a solid foundation to build upon. 

Building your nonprofit brand requires authenticity and consistency.  

Below are 5 best practices for nonprofit branding and how you can develop these strategies for your nonprofit: 

1. Your Mission

Developing your mission is the most important part of building your brand. You want to be sure that your mission is understood by all members involved in the organization. This includes staff, board members, volunteers and donors.  

Your nonprofit mission should be as clear, concise and informative as possible.  

A well-defined and clear mission should outline the foundational elements of your nonprofit and set the tone and voice of what you support.  

Answering the following questions will help in establishing what your organization stands for and what you hope to accomplish: 

  • Who are you? 
  • What do you stand for? 
  • What is your objective? 

By finding the answers to these questions, you will be able to define what your nonprofit is, and how you differ from competitors. 

2. Getting the right people involved

Your nonprofit branding is something that should be integrated into the organization’s culture. Hiring the right people to represent your nonprofit is essential in staying on brand. Your nonprofit mission should be well represented by people who understand the foundation of the organization and are able to speak well on its behalf. 

A strong representation helps draw people in. If your staff and volunteers are passionate about the nonprofit, it potentially helps others become interested in it as well. 

To be a successful nonprofit, your staff, volunteers and donors should be united and be proud of the role they play in helping contribute to the mission. The closer your team feels to one another, the harder they will work to achieve the goal. The people behind your organization are a direct representation of your mission and they should hold a great sense of pride. Getting the right people involved will make your work that much easier to accomplish. 

3. Building strong relationships

You’ve probably heard the expression “communication is key.” This is especially true when it comes to nonprofit best practices.  

Building strong relationships with staff, volunteers and donors will reinforce the value they bring to your nonprofit mission.  

The interaction you have with some of these people may be limited, so you want to make the best of the time you get to thank them for their part in the organization. A simple email every once in a while, shout out on social media, a personal donor call from a board member, or occasionally asking for their input will further emphasize your appreciation. 

4. Staying consistent

Every message your nonprofit puts out should personify your mission and your team. Showing inconsistency can give the impression that your organization is disorganized (reducing donor trust) and can leave your future or potential donors confused and not understanding exactly what it is that you do. 

Through being consistent in your messaging, actions and presentation, people are then easily able to understand the mission you are portraying. It’ll give them a strong impression of who and what you are and will definitively tell them WHY they should donate to your cause. 

Here are some ways you can remain consistent: 

  • Map out your branding strategy 
  • Stick to the plan and carry-out accordingly
  • Measure success and make changes based upon feedback that still align with your mission

5. Appealing to a greater audience

With so many other nonprofits to compete with, it’s important to clearly communicate what sets you apart from competitors.  

Tell the stories of the people who your organization has affected, show behind the scenes of the work you do daily, and highlight how just one person’s donation can make a big impact. 

Showcasing your brand’s mission, representation, strong relationships and consistency will allow your nonprofit organization the opportunity to appeal to the masses. If you manage all of these components and do it well, donors will see you as more than just an important mission – and they will see a strong, solid group of individuals behind an important mission. 

Nonprofit branding at a glance: 

Branding isn’t just the words you use to describe your nonprofit or the images you share on your social media – it is a living, breathing thing! It’s everything your organization stands for and the impact that you hope to make with the help of your staff, volunteers and supporters, who should feel as though they are key contributors as a part of your team. The internal representation of your brand is just as important as the message you put out into the nonprofit world. Establishing the following components is a great way to start exhibiting your nonprofit brand: 

  • Having a clear nonprofit mission 
  • Getting the right people involved 
  • Building strong relationships with staff, volunteers and donors
  • Staying consistent 
  • Appealing to the greater audience

Determining these factors will help pave the way to your nonprofit branding. This list of best practices will help build the foundation of your organization as well as help others understand what you are looking to achieve through your mission. In constructing these core practices, you will be on your way to an extremely well branded nonprofit organization with a strong foundation.  

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