Branding for the nonprofit sector: Part 1

How branding can help nonprofit organisations boost their fundraising efforts, create actionable social impact, and increase internal cohesion and capacity.

Branding for nonprofits rarely makes it to the top of the priority list. Typically treated as the domain of for-profit organisations, most nonprofits shy away from branding their organisations and prioritising their brands. But there is a shift in this trend, and nonprofits are becoming increasingly more aware of the organisation's brand value and impact. All businesses function in a highly competitive space: competing for funds, people's attention, volunteers and human resources, so it is no surprise that even nonprofits need to stand out and draw attention to the work that they do.

Nonprofit branding is a valuable tool to drive fundraising efforts, but there are wider, more strategic roles these organisations can play: to drive long-term social impact to inspire positive change, while building internal cohesion and capacity.

What is a brand?

A brand is defined by the people's perception of an organisation. It is not how you define your organisation, but how others perceive it. A brand defines "who you are, what you do, and why you matter". Beyond the logo, visual identity and graphic design your organisation uses, the nonprofit brand champions the causes you work for, highlights your impact, and aligns your missions and values with those of your audience.

Strengthen your fundraising efforts

A strong brand is a powerful tool to help your organisation acquire financial, human and social resources, and build key partnerships. An effective brand strategy increases name recognition, visibility and favourable positioning, that translates into fundraising success. It brings credibility and trust to the organisation's efforts, and acts as a catalyst to mobilise support for your causes. Large international nonprofits leverage their brand to build emotional connections with their audience, inspiring people to donate to their cause and volunteer to further their mission.

Inspire positive change

Beyond increasing revenue and name recognition, nonprofit brands can drive larger impact goals. In fact, many brand strategies of large international nonprofits are not focussed on driving fundraising at all. Nonprofits can and should leverage their brands to act as catalysts for positive change, highlighting key issues and moving conversations forward. Effective communications of your missions can engage your audiences and empower them to make better choices, contributing to long term sustainability of your impact and serve your mission.

Boost internal cohesion and capacity

A strong brand is key to a strong foundation. It unites all stakeholders, beneficiaries and donors to embrace a common identity that encapsulates the organisation's missions, values and actions. When all employees and partners are on the same page, there is greater cohesion in the brand's identity and image. Internal branding improves mission focus, and deepens employees' connection to the organisation. It strengthens leadership and unites an efficient team of change makers.

Branding for nonprofits touches not only its supporters and donors, but also the people it seeks to reach and assist. A cohesive brand identity strengthens your organisation's core values and ensure fulfilment of your missions.

If you found this article interesting, stay tuned to part 2 of the series, where we will look at effective brand strategies for the nonprofit sector.

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