If the 2000′s was the
decade of “why,” 2012 and beyond will be about social purpose and creating a
clear value proposition for your nonprofit organization. How do you create this
and engage your stakeholders in your social purpose and the value you create
for society? It starts with discovering and expressing your organization’s
higher purpose and focusing on outcomes, not activities!
that stand for a clear and inspiring social purpose and bring commitments to
life through outcome-driven action will deepen relationships, foster loyalty,
build sustainable organizations and achieve positive social change.
To infuse a
social purpose into your organization, define and demonstrate a three-dimensional
brand value proposition:
- Head: Articulate your leadership position–Identify what your
organization stands for—the unique, differentiated idea that sets it apart
and explains what the organization does better than others.
- Heart: Express your social purpose–Forge an emotional and
personal connection with your core stakeholders. Elevate your leadership
position to a higher purpose with specific outcomes—something bigger than
organizational activities, something your constituents care about and
- Hands: Rally your community–Use your social
purpose to create a sense of community–inside and outside of the
organization--to rally and inspire action. Unite people around shared
commitments, values and interests that add meaning to their lives and help
change our communities and the world for the better.
approach requires a profound shift in philosophy. It calls for a deep
commitment to ensuring that what your organization stands for–its social
purpose–is communicated and lived through every stakeholder interaction. This
is a shift from:
everything to articulating a clear purpose:
In an effort to satisfy multiple stakeholders, nonprofits often try to be
everything to everyone. To truly break through, a nonprofit finds and expresses
what it stands for–its higher social purpose. It uses that bigger purpose to
tell an enduring story that helps unify its actions from year to year.
to demonstrating outcomes: There is an old
saying that states, activities tell and benefits sell. Rather than just
reporting on activities, a BNB (Breakthrough Nonprofit Brand) focuses its
communications on the benefits and outcomes that deliver value. By issuing
compelling, personally relevant offers, a breakthrough organization makes
association with its brand a top choice over all other alternatives.
to building relationships: Traditionally,
nonprofits emphasize annual numbers and dollars raised. An organization that
invests in and rewards staff for building long-term relationships will break through.
It takes the time to engage in a meaningful dialogue with donors. This ongoing
conversation helps illuminate what the organization means to its supporters and
what their involvement says about them to others. It creates a true community
to being well-owned: Being better-known does
not equate to being better-understood or valued. A breakthrough organization
appreciates the importance of awareness and fundraising but spends just as much
time engaging internal and external communities in the higher purpose. It
believes in the power of many and meaningfully engages a critical mass of
people in its cause. Inclusive, not exclusive, it creates owner-based
relationships with constituents and encourages creative engagement. By
empowering an army of supporters who call the organization their own, it causes
people to take another look and creates waves of new recruits eager to commit
to the cause.
Moving from organizational silos
to integration: A high performance nonprofit uses its clear social
purpose as the force behind everything the organization does, making it the
central management preoccupation for the CEO, board, executive team and all
staff and volunteers. It is at the heart of governance, operations and mission achievement.
A concerted effort is made to break down internal silos and bring the
organization together around the social purpose for operational effectiveness.
leadership of the CEO and senior management, a social purpose brand can become
the catalyst for continual self-assessment and innovation. It is a must-do to
create a unique organizational identity infused with passion and trust. Forward-looking
senior leaders ensure this brand-centric philosophy is embraced by the whole
organization. They leverage the brand to strengthen donor loyalty, recruit top
executives, rally staff members, meaningfully engage volunteers, drive
diversified funding streams and ultimately, make a greater social impact.
social purpose brand conveys the organization’s focus, credibility and unique
contributions. In today’s environment, it is critical to focus on ways to
stand out and win head, heart and hands. This approach maximizes trust, forges
stronger relationships and secures a continuous flow of resources to fulfill
critical mission objectives. Social purpose branding is the new nonprofit
by Jocelyne Daw