The brand idea
Why should charities have a brand? Reading “The Brand Idea: Managing Nonprofit Brands With Integrity, Democracy and Affinity” by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander and Julia Shepard Stenzel may give audiences an answer. An interview with the author details the importance branding brings to the non-profit game.

Misconceptions about nonprofit organizations are that every one of them is basically doing the same thing: helping people in need. In the for-profit world, companies gain market share (customers) using their brand identity to differentiate themselves from their competition. The “Brand Idea” book explains why charity organizations should start taking the branding route as well. A brand identity explains what value the company has and expresses their intent and image to potential donors and partners.

People who associate with similar ideals and beliefs are more likely to work with a nonprofit organization whose brand also communicates those things. Connecting the brand to the mission and central beliefs of the foundation are vital to a successful brand identity. Creating value and raising awareness about the work being done by a non-profit group is part of what makes a brand strategy ideal.

Attracting new donors through brand strategy involves everyone in the giving process and bonds those who donate through a sense of community and affinity. The sense of belonging to an organization and having a real impact on the lives of those in need generates a true sense of accomplishment and builds favorable perceptions of the organization through which the donations were done.

Nathalie Laidler-Kylander talks about The Girl Effect, a program-oriented foundation started by Nike. The Girl Effect involves getting contributions from governments and other philanthropies towards initiatives that benefit girls. The author, quoted on says, “by developing specific programs that keep them in school and delay the onset of marriage and childbirth, it can have a significant impact on intergenerational poverty.”

The point of branding a nonprofit is to help get support for their specific goals and the best way to do that is to use a brand so donors and business allies can align their values with the foundation. Considering the technology available today and social media outlets, creating a brand and spreading the word is relatively inexpensive. Benefits of a strong brand name and following can reach far beyond the borders of the nonprofit headquarters and amplify tangible improvements to those they are trying to help.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: The Chronicle of Philanthropy , Nonprofit Brand Idea, Barnes and Noble
Photo: Personify Corp