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A Guide To Enhancing Your Non-Profit Branding Strategy

Updated: May 27

“Branding is just as important for non-profit organizations as it is for for-profits.” There are more than 10 million nonprofits and non-governmental organizations worldwide. (via nonprofitaction.org) Consistently presented brands are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with an inconsistent brand presentation. (Demand Metric) For these reasons, your nonprofit needs to focus on unique and consistent branding that tells a story in order to stand out of the crowd, gain consumer trust and improve your overall brand visibility.


Some examples of non-profit organizations are Churches, Military Support non-profits, animal shelters etc. They differ from for-profit organizations in that they tend to focus on their mission and raising donations for a group-oriented, social or community-based cause.


While branding may not be the first initiative a non-profit organization focuses on, there are many benefits to creating and maintaining a strong brand such as:

  • Enhancing overall company cohesiveness from internal to external

  • Elevating the value proposition, which will positively affect both the organization and targeted communities

  • Demonstrates honesty, trustworthiness, and legitimacy


How To Start Strong

  1. Determine your brand mission, vision, and tone:

Your values, mission, and brand tone will define the vision for your entire company while expressing where you stand in the market amongst other brands.

  1. Brand Style Guide:

The brand style guide provides guidelines for the way your brand looks in different media so you won’t have to make guesses when deciding on colors, fonts, or images saving you time and energy when creating.

  1. Typography, imagery, logo, mission, tone, examples, etc..

  2. Clearly explain what not to do

  3. Logo:

When defining your brand, you must make it recognizable with a unique logo. A logo is more than just a symbol or phrase, it's a reminder of the value proposition that your brand brings.

  1. Specific colors that elicit emotion

  2. Your design choice is very important because it will stand as a visual representation of your mission and value statements.


4 Qualities Your Nonprofit Brand Should Represent


  1. Honesty and Integrity

While it is important to have a style guide to help you achieve a cohesive digital experience, it is equally important to train employees on how to communicate with your consumers and represent your brand. Internal to external, the organization’s values should be cohesive and understood by all staff.

  • Internally: all staff, trustees, and volunteers have common understanding of brand

  • Externally: Catch’s the public's attention and demonstrates the complete value of its purpose

  1. Tell a story

Answer the questions, “What does my organization do? Why do we do it? And what impact are we making?” Your audience needs to relate to your cause. Use visual storytelling to drive engagement and choose a central character in your story to humanize the issue you are trying to solve, making it relatable.

  • Disseminate your content wisely and widely

  • Use infographics to help communicate and visualize your mission

  • “We have problem X-- We need you to take action Y”

  • Example: If you are a blood donor, market how your blood donation can give someone/5 people the chance of a full lifetime, make them feel special, and show they are making a difference

  • Red cross logo: symbol of safety, care, healing

  • Example: Locks of love: A simple haircut for you, a gift of beautiful new hair for a child who suffers from hair loss


74% of donors are more likely to increase their donation amount and/or give outside of their regular cadence if there’s a compelling reason to motivate them.

  1. Community Outreach → Incredible Engagement

All members of the organization should be communicating your brand values from conversations to comments answered on social platforms. Community outreach is the most effective way to drive nonprofit growth.

  • Plan events when the entire community can come together and your audience can interact with staff members

  • Create meaningful relationships with your audience to gain trust

  • Through social media (can be difficult) - CTA our services, customer/audience spotlights, joining/posting and engaging in FB/linkedin groups

  • Be transparent, engaging, active, and aware on social media to connect with the community, and other organizations and build your brand visibility

  1. Morals

Your brand should always represent itself in an ethical manner, including corporate practices and brand awareness. For example, when motivating people to donate to your cause, you may not want to use distressing or disturbing photos and videos to enhance donation efforts. Instead, communicate the issue in an uplifting manner and express how donations are making a greater impact.


Common Mistakes of Branding as a Nonprofit


“Wherever your organization is at the moment, creating strong nonprofit branding is hard work.”

  • Nonprofit executives may still think branding is more important and applicable in the for-profit sector

  • Many for-profit businesses charge high prices for their products due to brand popularity and strong development which can be misleading. Your efforts do not need to be expensive or over the top, they just need to be consistent, credible, and represent your company values.

  • Example: Animal Conservation nonprofit, a graphic of a specific animal your company protects or a family of animals (showing you are trying to bring them back and protect them)

  • The brand is controlled and designed by top management (hierarchical structure)

  • Can occur during rebranding, or to avoid implementing a strategic process that mirrors for-profit structures, brand has become too personal to upper leadership

  • Every employee of the company should have a say or opinion in designing the company logo.

  • Fear that one’s organization may become too overpowering in the industry

  • Brand imbalances, afraid the brand may act as a for-profit being too competitive and losing sight of the mission of nonprofits

Case study: Team ADDO


Introduction:


TEAM ADDO is a nonprofit started by James Boggs with the mission and goal to inspire and encourage others to make the world around them better. The group stands out as a nonprofit honoring the men and women who sacrifice for our freedom. They include and welcome people from all backgrounds, Veterans and civilians alike; active duty, prior service, family, and friends of Veterans, and all community members who want to make a difference.


Branding Strategy:


TEAM ADDO’s brand revolves heavily around connecting and giving back to the community. They often host events with Tampa community members, sponsors, and volunteers. The overall mission of TEAM ADDO’s branding strategy is to create meaningful relationships with heroes of all ages in the Tampa Bay area.

  • Events - Most recently, they held their 4th Annual Tampa Bay Throw Down at Armature Works to support The TEAM ADDO Tampa Bay Veterans Closet and Shriners Hospital for Children. Overlooking the Hillsborough River and downtown, TEAM ADDO was not only able to make a great impact in Tampa’s Veteran community and child patients and families at Shriners Hospital, but they were able to connect the city with a charity corn hole tournament with 48 teams participating.

  • Logo - TEAM ADDO’S logo represents freedom, community, and American pride. The red, blue, and white colors instantly tell people that the non-profit support American values of freedom, hard work, and perseverance. The two open hands symbolize a welcoming visual while representing the innocence and strength of the community it serves.


Conclusion:

Strong and consistent branding serves as a catalyst for long-term, sustainable growth for nonprofit organizations. Once you have clearly established your brand mission and tone, style guide, and high-quality logo, your company can continuously develop your brand by being honest, telling a story, doing community outreach, and maintaining ethical practices. Following this guide will allow your non-profit company to be more cohesive from the inside out, enhance your value proposition to educate and assist your cause and represent a brand that is human and focuses on the greater good.


Key Takeaways:
  • Your nonprofit needs to focus on unique and consistent branding that tells a story in order to stand out of the crowd, gain consumer trust and improve your overall brand visibility

  • To start strong, clearly define your mission, vision, tone, brand style guide, and logo

  • When telling a story with your brand: answer the questions, “What does my organization do? Why do we do it? And what impact is it making?”

  • Community outreach is the most effective way to drive nonprofit growth


If you are a non-profit organization looking to further develop your brand, where to begin, or need expert advice, contact our team and we would be glad to assist you!




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