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A Graceful Exit: How One Foundation Approached Sunsetting a Successful Initiative

If you are a foundation planning to phase out an initiative, knowing how to leave grantees—and the larger community—feeling ignited rather than deflated is probably on your mind. You’ve spent the last several years investing in and coaching your grantees, and it’s time to transition the leadership and let the grantees take the reins. How can you support them, celebrate their successes, and encourage others to join your cause? These were the questions Blue Shield Against Violence, a program of the Blue Shield of California Foundation, faced last year at the end of their wildly... +Read More

Who’s Responsible for Your Organization’s Brand?

For years we have told our clients that brand is just another word for reputation. And your organization has one, whether or not you know it or work on it. What makes up your reputation? It’s comprised of how you look, how you sound, what you do, and how you act. Put bluntly: Everyone at your organization and everything they do affects your reputation—your brand. And that means that brand is everyone’s responsibility. Imagine you work for an organization that delivers meals to home-bound elderly people. Let’s call it WheelyMeals. Your team knows that being successful relies upon... +Read More

13 Reasons Your Nonprofit Might Need To Update Its Brand

We get calls from nonprofits, foundations, and independent schools eager to address communication challenges of every kind. Some recognize that an unclear brand is at the center of their issues, and others haven’t given the idea of brand much thought at all. Regardless of the communications challenges at your organization, having a stronger brand is likely an important part of the solution. Below are the 13 most common reasons nonprofits ultimately decide they need to rebrand. Do any of these scenarios feel familiar to you and your organization? Our organization gets confused with others... +Read More

Is Your Annual Report Telling the Right Story?

Recently one of our clients, a program officer at a private foundation, complained to me that so many of the stories she reads in annual reports sound the same. “Are stories really that important?” she asked. My first instinct was to argue with her. After all, I’ve spent most of my career trying to convince nonprofits that storytelling is essential. And it is. In a head to head test, donors presented with the story of a single individual were more likely to give than when presented with data proving the efficacy of an organization. Stories work. And yet, the more I thought about it, the... +Read More

Is Your Event Building or Breaking Your Brand?

Conferences, expos, exhibitions, summits, forums, and galas. They exist for every single industry you can think of. And isn’t that a great thing? There’s something wonderful about a group of people coming together from across the city, region, state, country, or globe to discuss or support a common issue. It’s inspiring to see professionals wanting to share their expertise with peers near and far. And galas and social fundraisers are a fun way to rally support for your cause. When done well, these events can be effective and inspiring sources of development, networking, and fun. When... +Read More

Why Your Nonprofit Needs an Enemy

A recent article in AdAge argues that every great story, and every great brand, has a strong, evident antagonist–someone to fight against. The author explains that Apple’s enemy was Microsoft, just as Luke fought against Darth Vadar. Great consumer marketing does this: It positions one product against another. We choose Nike over Reebok or Coke instead of Pepsi. I’d like to take this one step further as we think about the nonprofit sector. Your brand is a story, a story in which those who align with your brand are pitted against a challenging foe. But nonprofit enemies aren’t other... +Read More