5 reasons that focus on your nonprofit’s branding will amp up your impact

If asked to name a few of the world’s top brands, you’d probably have no trouble. Google. Apple. Coca-Cola. They’ve all cracked the code on how to use and position their name to bring in more customers and more revenue.

Some big nonprofit brands have cornered the market, too, their names synonymous with their mission and their work across the globe. Red Cross. Special Olympics. Make-A-Wish.

Even World Wildlife Fund, consistently rated in the top 100 for largest U.S. nonprofits, understands the importance of branding, and takes it very seriously. “Our brand is the single greatest asset that our network has, and it’s what keeps everyone together,” said Marcia Marsh, the organization’s chief operating officer.

But effective branding isn’t just for the big dogs. Every organization with a mission can benefit from a little additional effort in this arena. Where the bottom-line often drives the for-profit sector, branding in the nonprofit world supports a solid fundraising and social impact structure.

By defining your voice and vision, brand strategy for your nonprofit will increase your capacity and up your influence. If reaching a wider audience and moving the needle on your mission is the goal (and it is!), then an intentional focus on your brand is key.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Awareness to your organization

This one’s pretty obvious, but it can’t be overstated. If people know your nonprofit, it’s going to be top-of-mind for them. Top-of-mind and visibility leads to trust, and trust leads to dollars. Guidestar suggests that donors align their values with reputable organizations when selected a nonprofit to support. Be sure to make those values known.

2. A coalition of ambassadors

When people like something, they tell their friends. They are proud to support organizations doing good work, and might even want to brag a little about their philanthropic initiatives. A strong brand begets boots on the ground to spread the word of your work far and wide.

3. Generate more dollars

That increased awareness and growing coalition can lead to tangible results, in the form of additional financial support. The goal of your brand is to demonstrate impact and create a narrative around your work. By clearly telling your story, you can attract donors—individuals, corporations, and even grantmakers—by aligning your success with causes they want to support.

4. Attract and retain better talent

Strong branding isn’t just for external purposes. You can bring in (and keep) the employees you want and need by demonstrating your impact. This is especially true when recruiting young talent. According to Eddie Lou of Forbes, millennials have “made it clear that social impact is not only a want, but a need in their potential employers.”

In fact, 94% of millennials have stated they want to use their skills to benefit a cause.

As nonprofits have to compete with for-profit organizations for top talent, it’s important to have a solid mission and vision to stand up against a Google-sized salary offer.

5. Organizational effectiveness

The cohesion and collaboration when all employees can rally behind a common, shared goal are powerful. This means better conversations and innovations on strategy, goal-setting, donor management and stewardship, and marketing. Your brand becomes your north star to which all employees can follow.

Building a brand creates and defines your identity in a saturated world of nonprofits. For all endeavors, including donor acquisition, visibility, and organizational success, branding is a critical component to nonprofit success.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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