How to Make Your Nonprofit a Household Name
October 6, 2016 Lynette Garet Business Basics 0 Comment
Big nonprofits: Three Secrets for Success
Nonprofit organizations like American Cancer Society, Red Cross, and Greenpeace, have become household names, but how did they do it? The short answer is that they planned it strategically.
To follow in their footsteps (and doesn’t every nonprofit want to do that?), you’ll need data that will reveal the challenges and opportunities facing your NPO. Such strategic planning requires time and money, resources that are in short supply for most nonprofits. It also requires stakeholder consensus: Board, staff, and management must take a hard look at your mission, program goals, and constituents in order to make specific decisions about the following areas of your marketing and business strategies.
Your logo—the iconic image of your NPO’s name, mission, and values—is everything. Your tagline, coupled with your logo, is nearly as important to building your brand recognition. We’ve said it before and we can’t stress it enough: your logo is your story. A good logo (see our blog post Why You Need a Good Logo for Your Nonprofit) has critical elements that will make it unique, universal and memorable. So does a good tagline or Unique Sales Proposition (USP), Or, in the case of the nonprofit, your “Unique Service Proposition.”
Quick: in eight words or less describe your nonprofit’s mission, values, ethics and programs. Consider the United Negro College Fund: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Or, charity:water: “Water changes everything.” Or even the National Eating Disorders Association, “Starve fear. Feed hope.”
More than any annual report you publish, the number of Facebook likes, more than your GuideStar rating, your brand instantly informs your donors, supporters and the world at large of everything your nonprofit represents. It must reflect your values uniquely, consistently and transparently. Get it right and you’ll impress potential donors with the strength and unity of your organization. Feature both prominently on your website, social media posts and all of your communications.
Document, and share, your nonprofit’s work; financial ratios are not the only key indicator of your success and strength. Tell your story one picture and one person at a time. Instead of eleventy billion meals served, tell donors how their donation fed Jane’s family, put shoes on her children’s feet, and kept them in school. Better yet, post a picture on social media showing Jane’s kids on their way to school in shiny new shoes, and attach your story in the text portion with the link to your website. Connect donations to the programs with graphics, case studies. Make it easy for people to understand your work and your values.
Tie your campaigns to your community and build a sense of community. Instead of pitching your food security project and the money you’ll need for it, pitch an idea, “Let’s increase local food security with allotments for 50 family vegetable gardens.” Then when a potential donor follows a “Read more” link, tell him how much it will cost to supply water, seeds, tools and support for an allotment or ten. You donor will understand the tangible result of his donation in his community immediately.
Your mission and your programs may not be earth shattering but they are world changing. It’s difficult to plan fire prevention when you’re stomping on the flames; focusing at least some of your resources on planning will reward you with fewer fires to extinguish.