Engaging with the local community is key for small nonprofits and chapters of large ones. Volunteers and donors decide to involve themselves with your organization when they see what you give to their town. Continually showing the specific ways you add value is branding. Creating a brand for nonprofits is done through fundraising events and your daily work.
Elements of Creating a Brand for Nonprofits
Your brand is how donors recognize you. How is your brand created?
- Starting with your logo, define who you are with simply your name such as Goodwill or Greenpeace. An image like Apple uses is another way donors recognize you. An acronym with an image such as WWF uses with the beloved panda, a branding image that speaks a thousand words.
- Next is your tagline, which quickly tells donors what you do. Taglines are never generic. They work with other branding elements to reinforce the central message of your mission. March of Dimes tagline is, A fighting chance for every baby. Taglines should sound good to the ear and define in a nut shell your purpose.
- A good story is hard to forget in creating a brand. And it can be retold, whereas facts and figures are easily forgotten. Planting a seed in the minds and hearts of people is branding. Discover the story tellers among your board members, staff, and volunteer and donor base. Hold community events at your nonprofit, libraries, and schools to tell stories of real people you have helped. Video tape them and post them on social media platforms and your nonprofit website. Or invite people to tell their own story of how you’ve helped them. Write about these stories in your blog and newsletter.
- Your office reflects your brand. Ask your employees to tell you how they see your brand personality. This may surprise you and give cause to change your font or colors of your brand. Is it confident, empowered and happy? Are you reflecting that to the public in your printed materials and social media marketing? Reflect your unique personality – that is your brand.
- Your credibility is part of your brand. Ways to show this to potential donors is through simple reports on your website of your financials. Pie charts, graphics and animated videos are nice as opposed to lengthy reporting. Adding links to more in depth reports allows for a quick read, with an option to see more. How easy your nonprofit website is to read and use reflects your credibility. How easy it is for donors to make a donation on your website is another measure.
- A super important aspect of your brand is whether donors care about your work and find it interesting. One way to learn this and possibly define yourself better is ask them. Surveys and Google hangouts are ways to get their feedback. Offer a gift card as an incentive so they’ll offer their honest opinion.
- How your brand changes the world is a huge branding element. Ask for testimonials on how your projects have helped to change the world. Ask individuals how your organization has changed their life and the lives of others. Add them to your website homepage accompanied by related photos that warm hearts. Creating a brand and continually strengthening it is about what you give.
Branding is essential when your nonprofit begins a fundraising campaign, event or program. Let’s say you’re launching a crowdfunding event and inviting the whole community to get involved.
Creating a Brand in Crowdfunding
Non-profit crowdfunding provides more opportunities to enforce your branding.
- Offer cool apparel well in advance of the event at coffee shops, restaurants and universities. Creating several t-shirt designs is a great idea, all with the same event logo. Create water bottles and cool hoodies. Everyone in town will want one, and so the excitement of the upcoming fundraising event begins.
- Ask your volunteers to share their experiences with your nonprofit on local radio, TV, newspapers and online forums. Ask them to put in a plug for the event.
- Get local businesses to form crowdfunding teams, and ask them to be design team t-shirts to sell at work and all around town. Their employees will bond and derive benefit from giving.
- Find young volunteers who are good at graphic design. This will get them psyched about our event. They’ll invite their friends to form crowdfunding teams. Many high school and university students are masters at graphic design. Nurturing and encouraging them to be a part of your nonprofit as volunteers opens doors to a diverse way of thinking.
- As you launch your crowdfunding website, introduce it with a silent auction or raffle only available before registration. Create a buzz by listing the interesting and desirable auction items on event flyers and your homepage. Give recognition to the winning bidders.
- Introduce the opening of your online registration process by offering prizes for large donations.
- Recognize donations within your newsletter, social media pages, website and email updates. Feature these donors in short videos with your smart phone, asking them to share why they’re a part of your nonprofit.
Creating a Brand for Galas and Special Events
- Visibly show potential sponsors the exposure and benefits included for each level of sponsorship. Show them how their sponsorship logo will be placed on your marketing materials. Tell them how many social media posts, emails and media releases will include their brand. Consider a PDF on your homepage to show this. It can include the same info as your email invite to them. Since videos are all the rage, ask them for a video about their brand which includes why they are donating to your gala event. Add this to your YouTube channel and other social media marketing platforms.
- Create a dazzling invitation to your gala. The effort and creativity you put into this will make people feel valued. While this can be costly, you have options. One low cost option is to form a graphic design committee with university students. Printed invitations are nice, but email and online invites are environmentally friendly.
- Take the time to create a fab gala event website. So many logistical things happen on this site that are important to the success of the event. If it’s beautiful and easy to use, that is exactly what stays in the minds of the public about your brand. Keep it continually updated with new photos, stories and event updates.
- Use well written emails to share new developments for the event and reminders to register and donate. Thank donors and volunteers for their efforts and donations. Invite them to join in on the fun of before and after parties.
- Update your social media marketing pages as the event nears. Header images or graphics can be replaced with gala specific branding for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find creative ways to include the gala event in your posts to keep the branding hot. Add links to your gala website for more info, registration and donations.
Creating a Brand Through Event Themes
Themes are a great way to brand your nonprofit fundraising events. People remember unique events, costumes and photos. They remember a good time. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are special holiday fundraising seasons to build themes around. Find a truly fun Halloween theme in our article on a successful Halloween dog walk. Fond memories are magic potions for creating your brand. The following year your donors will look forward to your signature fundraising event at that special time of year. Good feelings, stories, images and memories are the essential ingredients of branding.