Branding Your Non-Profit: The Value of Your Mission

by Sally Glick

Sally_Glick_Final_744-resizedThere is a good deal of discussion in both the for-profit and non-profit communities about the importance of an organization’s brand. When you have a well-established name you are able to effectively and efficiently differentiate your group and build a loyal following. Think about some well-known brands, like Ben & Jerry’s (community commitment); Disney (extraordinary family fun); Peace Corps (global support for the world’s vulnerable); or America Reads (volunteers for literacy). In each instance, the organization has promoted a brand that resonates with its audience and generates an immediate emotional reaction.

You can do that!

The idea of becoming famous might seem daunting, especially to a smaller, local nonprofit, but the reality is you only need to become slightly famous – well-known and well-regarded in your own marketplace.

To own a powerful brand you need to follow a plan, even if your target audience is local. The more purposeful you are, the more likely you are to have success. It takes hard work and a consistent process, but it can be done. Here is an outline that can guide you:

  1. Understand the value of your mission and the power of your culture by talking to staff, board members, volunteers and constituents. Engage your community in an in-depth conversation about who you are and what you value as an organization. Once you define the organization’s  distinctive advantages, those characteristics form the foundation of your brand.
  2. Use the following tools to tell your story and promote your brand:
  • Website – include videos, case studies and testimonials that really showcase your efforts and your successes)
  • Twitter, LinkedInFacebook and other social media– include photos and stories that highlight your experiences and build a sense of community around your followers and friends
  • Media coverage – connect with local press, share statistics, emerging trends and news valuable to their readers; help them out and they will help you out as well
  • Newsletters – sending relevant news about your organization to your community enables you to keep in touch without always asking for something! Instead, you are giving something back – information! With all of the new software platforms, like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact and others, it is no longer difficult or expensive to publish a meaningful newsletter that keeps your brand in the spotlight.
  1. Personal interaction – ask board members to host small events with potential and existing donors (donor cultivation events); offer tours of your facility if appropriate, led by the executive director. In short, find a multitude of ways to establish and maintain a personal connection to those who represent your best opportunities for financial and volunteer support. Encourage them to become your passionate advocates – sharing your story and being the voices that represent you best.
  2. TopNonprofits_Logos-1-485x300Logo (the design element of your brand) – Your logo is NOT your brand but it is a visual representation of what you stand for. While your brand is really intangible, your logo provides something for followers to connect with on a regular basis. It should be used consistently in order to have a powerful impact so that whenever someone sees the logo, they immediately think of you. Your logo helps you make a lasting impression and maintain awareness of the organization. Not sure your logo is still relevant to your mission? Perhaps it’s time to discuss modifications with your marketing committee or focus group.

Your brand strategy should be included in your organization’s marketing plan to be shared with board and staff. Everything you do creates an image of your organization. Your office, your materials, your logo, your website, your communication skills – even the way you answer the phone – all reinforces your brand and your reputation.

With that in mind, it is critical for you to consider that people want to support an organization with people they like and trust. This means that your responsibility is to shape your organization’s brand to reflect key values such as likability, integrity, trust and a commitment to good stewardship. After these traits are embedded in the group’s core, then you can use all the tactics described above to shout to the world that your organization is special indeed!

Sally Glick is a principal and chief growth strategist for Sobel & Co. LLC, Certified Public Accountants and Advisors, with a “passion for helping nonprofit organizations achieve their mission for helping the world’s most vulnerable.” She has just been named by NJBIZ as the New Jersey’s Best 50 Women in Business 2016 Lifetime Achievement honoree. Sally is also a board member of the Center for Non-Profits and co-chair of the Center’s Communications Committee.

Sobel & Co., LLC, is the generous sponsor of the Center for Non-Profits’ 2016 New Jersey Non-Profit Issues & Trends Survey.
Click here to take the survey and please spread the word to your colleagues in NJ 501(c)(3) organizations!






  1. Great article, Sally! Nonprofits that understand how branding and communication can help build awareness, loyalty and fundraising are the ones that will thrive.

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