Did you meet your fundraising goal? If not, take a look at your brand.
For many nonprofits, when your fiscal year ends there is a black and white answer on whether or not fundraising goals were met. If you missed your goal, by a little or a lot, the first place you should look for opportunity is your brand strategy. Ask yourself two questions:
- Is our brand strong enough to support our fundraising efforts?
- If our brand is strong enough, is our fundraising program intentionally aligned with it?
Are your donors clear about and delighted by what you stand for? Are they active, energetic ambassadors of your mission? Are they crystal clear about how you are truly different from other nonprofits? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then your organization will benefit from a strategic and disciplined effort to strengthen your brand.
Here are 13 more reasons you may need to update your brand.
What Happens If Your Brand Isn’t Strong Enough
Your brand isn’t a logo or mission statement. Your brand is that big idea that comes to your donors’ mind when she hears your name or sees your logo. That big idea has to ignite her, and differentiate you from all the other nonprofits she lumps you in with.
It’s not enough that your nonprofit does good work. How valuable do your donors perceive your organization to be? Strong nonprofit brands focus on the value only they can deliver, and value is measured by how vital your donors feel your work is.
When they see what you do as indispensable—and their role as donors as being part of the story—they’ll want to give often and generously. But, if your brand and its value aren’t crystal clear, if donors see you as similar to other organizations, or if they have a hunch you’ll get along just fine without them, it’s harder to attract their support.
Takeaway: The more clear and strong your brand, the more fundraising success you’ll have.
What Happens If Your Brand Is Strong, But Your Fundraising Program Doesn’t Embrace It
With a strong brand, your organization almost sells itself to donors. But not if you go rogue, creating fundraising communications that don’t align with your brand.
We often see fundraising professionals struggle with the balance between “fresh, new fundraising messages” and steady, brand-centric communication. If you think you have to come up with a new idea every time you create new donor communication materials, you’re probably not embracing your brand as strongly as you should.
Your brand strategy, and accompanying messages, should form the bedrock of all donor communications. Use them repeatedly. Look to them first to communicate anything new to your donors. Don’t dream up something fresh and new when repetition of your key brand messages is what actually helps donors understand you.
To donors the repetition is comforting. If you change up your language every time they hear from you they won’t have the depth of understanding required, nor the confidence that they really know you. Understanding and confidence are at the core of the donor decision to give.
And the same goes for your printed and digital donor communications. They should look just like everything else you publish — from your website to last year’s annual report. Avoid the temptation to create something new and clever.
Be steady, consistent and visually clear so donors never have to question if you’re still who you said you were last time they heard from you. Added bonus: The more you show up looking and sounding consistent with your brand, the stronger your brand becomes. And the stronger the brand, the more fundraising success you’ll continue to have.
Here’s what we deliver to our clients that allows everyone to understand the brand, how to bring it to life, and where to start when creating fundraising communications.
Takeaway: Let your existing brand strategy itself be the guide for all donor communications.
Did you find this useful? We hope so! We have quite a few how-to’s that you can download for free to make sure your donor communications materials are as good as they can possibly be. Take a look: