nonprofit branding strategies

5 Nonprofit Branding Strategies to Accelerate Growth

Many nonprofits tend to shy away from branding because it’s seen as “too corporate” or “cut-throat” – however, this is a damaging misconception. The reality is that the branding of your organization is happening right now. No matter the cause, we are all competing for attention. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the United States alone. Establishing a consistent brand image is one of the best strategic assets for your organization and can lead to accelerated growth and increased impact. If you are concerned about the public perception of your nonprofit, then you should consider the following nonprofit branding strategies:

1. If you can’t be the best, be different.

There are typically many organizations focusing on one specific need or issue, which splits the donor and volunteer populations. If you cannot afford to be the biggest or most impactful organization out there, determine your nonprofit’s unique traits. Consider researching similar companies or doing a SWOT (strengths, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis to determine your distinctive qualities then, leverage this information to attract support.

2. Your brand should reflect your values.

Realize your brand includes more than just your logo. Branding is everything from the name of your organization to your online presence. Potential donors and volunteers shouldn’t have to guess what your organization does. Make sure your messaging, logo, and name all reflect your mission and values. If you find that your mission is not clear from your name alone, consider doing the SWOT analysis above and integrating your findings with your current brand image. Investigate how you can tailor your brand to suit your target donors and volunteers.

3. Be consistent.

There’s no point in establishing a brand if it cannot be easily identified. Make strides to maintain the same messaging on all of your brand materials including your website and social media accounts. Utilize the same color schemes, logo, and writing style for uniformity. Your messaging should be clear and succinct. Consistency builds trust and community.

4. Transparency and honesty are critical.

Social media allows a level of interaction and transparency never before seen in the working world. Maintaining your donors’ trust is especially important in the nonprofit sector and one wrong step can destroy your brand credibility. Maintaining an authentic voice and look is essential. Avoid being too preachy or boastful and always own up to your mistakes and missteps. However, try to update your website or blog as often as possible with honest victories. This builds integrity and momentum.

5. Think globally.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, your organization can reach millions of people in seconds! The downside is this impressive reach can have unintended consequences. Think of ways your mission can be tailored to attract different communities. Always consider how your message could be misinterpreted or misconstrued by different cultures. When in doubt, leave it out.

Below are some examples of great nonprofit branding strategies:

nonprofit branding strategies

Clockwise from top left: charity: water’s iconic logo, photo application of the logo featuring someone the charity has helped, trendy t-shirts feat. logo, heat map on website illustrating completed projects.

Charity: Water utilizes a clever “jerry can” logo as well as strong imagery to enforce their message. The organization provides frequent updates synchronized across a variety of platforms and allows donors to see exactly where their money is going.


nonprofit branding strategies

Clockwise from top left: Invisible Children logo, Instagram-style updates appeal to millennial demographic, a clear call to action on website, a screenshot from the Kony 2012 video- 99,521,793 views and counting.

Invisible Children primarily employs the powerful story telling ability of film to communicate. All of their materials are clear and succinct and provide a specific call to action. Invisible Children also works with a clearly targeted demographic and markets directly to them.

nonprofit branding strategies

Clockwise from top left: Greenpeace logo, images on social media highlight aggressive protest techniques, Greenpeace Japan Twitter, Greenpeace Pinterest includes animal photos and eco-friendly lifestyle tips.

Greenpeace stands out for its sheer size and commitment to social media platforms. The NGO can be found on everything from Pinterest to Twitter and is consistent throughout. The organization also creates separate accounts for its global followers. Finally, the commitment to the brand stretches to taking steps such as suspending t-shirt production until an eco-friendly method can be found.

Want more advice? Reach out to us by email at connect (at) mediacause (dot) org or on Facebook or Twitter!

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