You have only so much funding to do all that needs to be done. For sure, you can use more money. There is so much more you could do if only you had the budget.
Your funding comes from the community, whether you are talking grants, special events, business giving, or individual donations. The more well-known your nonprofit is in your community, the easier it is to raise the support you need.
What if I told you that there is a surprisingly simple way to get your message widely out to the community? There is. It’s called branding.
Build a Strong Brand
Your nonprofit’s brand, roughly speaking, is its reputation for how well it lives up to its promises. A strong brand means your nonprofit is widely known to make a positive impact on the issues it tackles. In other words, your agency demonstrates a strong commitment to its mission.
Building your brand starts with communicating it. And your nonprofit’s brand is conveyed through every symbol, word, and action associated with the organization. That includes internal and external communications and materials. You want your internal people all to be on the same page to impart the same distinctive message to the public. And you want to share a singular, powerful message to your external audiences, so they know exactly who your nonprofit is and there is no confusion over what it stands for. That means your logo, font, website, photography, public speeches, social media posts, brochures, reports, volunteer trainings, employee manuals—everything you do and say—is planned, coordinated, and embedded with the same language, concepts, and symbols. It also means choosing and designing fundraising activities that promote the message you are trying to communicate. All these components combined make a strong brand.
Convey Your Nonprofit’s Uniqueness
Your organization’s brand is unique to it. Therefore, think about the kinds of activities that will support your nonprofit’s mission and convey your agency’s messages. Don’t just copy someone else. Build your brand. Strengthen your reputation in the community. You will be better off for it in the long term. Because strong brands are attractive to potential supporters. And community support is what you’re looking for.
Determine Your Brand’s Symbols
Your agency’s logo may be the most familiar symbol of your essence. And you may think that you develop a logo based on what the decision-makers like and dislike. Not true. In fact, branding is big business in the for-profit world and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it is based on careful research and objective data.
To create a logo that communicates the essence of an organization, a branding firm will ask for a sample of your nonprofit’s internal and external constituencies to contact for feedback. Branding professionals know the questions to ask to get the best responses. And they have knowledge that we don’t. For example, they know that color evokes an emotional response. And that the colors that you use are an important part of how people experience your organization. For a quick and dirty look, Google your logo’s color meanings and see what emotions are elicited when people see your agency’s logo.
Same with fonts and pictures. What fonts you use communicate aspects of your agency’s personality. As do the type of pictures and photos you use in your communication materials. Every aspect of your communication materials tells people something about your organization. A branding firm can help you identify all those aspects. The goal is to develop one unified image of your nonprofit that you can use to tell the world about you. So that everyone in the community who comes across you gets the same message, in both word and image.
Affording a Brand Initiative
If you have the connections and can get a branding firm to do some pro bono work on your behalf, great. You may also be able to garner a capacity-building grant that will cover the project expenses. If you can’t get something donated or funded, shop around and find a consultant you can afford. The money is worth the investment. The long-term benefits of good branding leading to more community support far outweigh the short-term financial costs.