Branding Your Nonprofit in the Age of Social Media

15 Mar

If you interviewed a panel of consumers, undoubtedly most would be able to identify Nike by its swoosh, Disney by its three circles forming Mickey Mouse’s head and Microsoft Windows by its four-colored waving flag. Branding and marketing go hand-in-hand; not just in the marketplace but also for non-profit fundraising.

Rahim Kanani, contributor to Forbes Magazine, had an informative interview with Nathalie Kylander, adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a research fellow at Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. Kylander, along with Hauser Center Faculty Director Christopher Stone, are authors of an in-depth research study on the role of brand in the nonprofit sector. With more than a decade of nonprofit branding research to her credit, Kylander brings some useful insight to the subject.

First of all, why is branding so important to a nonprofit organization? Kylander explains that, “traditionally, brand was essentially viewed as a communication and fundraising tool, but we found that a new paradigm was emerging where brand was increasingly being considered in a strategic way, fundamentally anchored in the mission and values of an organization and critical at every step in the theory of change of an organization.

“We also found that the role that brand played internally was as critical to many of the organizations we interviewed, as the external role of the brand. Internally, a strong brand drives cohesion and helps an organization build the capacity and skills to implement its social mission. Externally a strong brand results in trust among its many constituents, be they donors, beneficiaries, partners, or otherwise, which enables the organization to have greater impact. However, what makes a brand strong is the close alignment between internal brand identity and external brand image, what we call brand Integrity.”

Can your donors easily identify your brand? Does your logo fully symbolize your cause? When constituents see your organization, what values and goals do they associate with it? “A brand is a psychological construct held in the minds of all brand audiences, a promise, a short-cut for decision making if you will. Strong brands in both sectors enable organizations to build trust, gain resources, and establish partnerships and access” explains Kylander.

A strong brand is needed especially when using social media networks for online fundraising. With Twitter’s shorthand and Facebook’s overwhelming traffic, a reliable brand makes the difference between a glance at your comments and a click on the “donate” button. Let Fundly help you create a free fundraising website today that can expand your social media fundraising and promote your organization’s brand!

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