Posts Tagged ‘The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand’

CausePlanet’s Choice Awards–Top Books for nonprofits from 2014

Here they are — our favorites from 2014. We read so many compelling, insightful books last year on a variety of essential topics, but the final choices came down to originality and applicability.

Each of our Choice Book Awards had either a fresh perspective on an imperative competency or broadened our thinking by tackling new territory. Additionally, all the authors brought their content to life through helpful case stories, exhibits, tools and evidence. These favorites are sure to help you work smarter; we hope you delve into them soon.

CausePlanet’s Top Five Choice Awards from 2014:

1) Fundraising the Smart Way: Predictable, Consistent Income Growth for Your Charity + Website by Ellen Bristol


Bristol gives you an innovative, concrete way to track and monitor your donors’ progress toward making donations. No more guessing about a prospect’s ability and desire to give means you can confidently meet and surpass your fundraising goals. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

2) The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving by Jeff Brooks


Brooks shares an unvarnished, refreshing look at how to captivate more donors with accessible ideas that specifically work for nonprofits. He delivers new ways to connect your brand with your donors in a manner they won’t forget. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

3) The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams


Adams establishes an irrefutable link between effective leadership and organizational impact. What’s more, he comprehensively illustrates numerous advantages and opportunities bestowed upon nonprofits that engage in proactive training, succession planning and transition management. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

4) Fundraising with Businesses: 40 New and Improved Strategies for Nonprofits by Joe Waters


The organization of this book is what really caught our attention. Waters gives you specific cause (pronounced “khaz” by Waters) marketing strategies, how to implement them, ideas you’re encouraged to steal and success stories at every turn. His approachable format is chock-full of applicability. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

5) The Abundant Not-for-Profit: How Talent (Not Money) Will Transform Your Organization by Colleen Kelly and Lynda Gerty


Kelly and Gerty reveal a transformational method for utilizing your community’s expertise. At the center of this transformation is a new breed of volunteer—a “knowledge philanthropist.” The abundance model will revolutionize your use of talent, cultivate a renewable resource and be a welcome relief on the budget. Learn more about the author, book and Page to Practice summary.

Thank you to all our authors who give us reading pleasure and professional inspiration every day. It’s a pleasure to promote your smart advice at CausePlanet.

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Four branding authors agree: Imitation is the sincerest form of fall-flat-tery

Robert Antell and his wife, Marguerite, decided to make a break from the norm in their rural town of Perinton near the Canadian border in New York State. In 1970, the Antells built a home that most would call bizarre and others might call original. Their “Mushroom House” still stands today and is 4,200 square feet of sprouting concrete pods made to look like Queen Anne’s Lace Flower.

Modeling what already exists—in this case nature—is understandably a favorable strategy because, in most cases, it works. There are many forms of architecture that mimic nature beautifully. Depending on your taste, you might say this home is a work of art or a vision gone wrong.

In the case of nonprofits imitating corporate brand management, however, it’s not a matter of esthetics. Four authors agree it simply doesn’t work. Why? Allow me to excerpt each of their views.

Nonprofit life shouldn’t imitate the art of corporate branding

The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand

First, author Jeff Brooks in The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand says, “Simply applying the principles of commercial branding to nonprofit fundraising is exactly the wrong thing to do. It’s the cause of most branding accidents.” He further explains commercial branding does not work for nonprofit
organizations because it focuses on abstract ideals of products or services. Nonprofits need to show clear, emotional images to motivate and connect with their donors. There are warning signs that your brand is too commercialized and doesn’t focus on the donor: the work is not grounded in donor behavior; the brand describes your organization in a symbolic way rather than in a clear fashion that moves donors to act; or the brand is design and little else.

The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy and Affinity

Second, The Brand IDEA by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander and Julia Shepard Stenzel argues today’s brands must uphold mission impact by building trust, cohesion, capacity and impact, not necessarily qualities for which corporate brands strive. Kylander and Stenzel’s book is the result of more than two years of research and collaborative effort, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, to examine the role of brands in the nonprofit sector and recognize that nonprofits are over-relying on corporate sector practices to oversee their brands.

The coauthors’ acronym, “IDEA,” further gives us insight into honoring the truly nonprofit brand. Integrity (the “I” in IDEA) is the “alignment between the brand identity and image and the mission, values, and strategy of the organization.” Democracy is the “extent to which an organization engages its board, staff, members, participants, volunteers, supporters, and other stakeholders in both defining and communicating the brand identity.” Brand Affinity “represents a mindset and an approach to brand management in which the focus is on shared social impact, rather than on individual internal organizational goals.” Kylander and Stenzel’s brand philosophy further brings to light that corporations often look at alignment between their image and selling a product, whereas the nonprofit brand aims to move a community and achieve social impact.

Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications

Third, author Sarah Durham’s philosophy is built upon branding that is grounded in the nonprofit mission. Specifically, “brandraising” is the process of developing a clear, cohesive organizational identity and communications system that supports raising money and increasing visibility. Additionally, brandraising makes it easier to express your organization’s mission effectively and consistently. Durham claims brandraising is a holistic approach to communications that involves everyone within the organization—board, staff leadership, volunteers, program staff and donors. Brandraising is ultimately measured by how the mission is advanced.

As you read each author’s viewpoint on how a brand must uphold the mission, you may have also noticed these authors agree on the brand’s role as champion of visibility and revenue. Follow other high-performing nonprofits and their pursuit of brands created with a nonprofit lens rather than a corporate one; otherwise, your corporate imitation will be the sincerest form of fall-flat-tery.

See also:

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

Married to the Brand

Marketing Series Volume I: 4 summaries in one bundle

Image credit: ixdaily.com, ipoem.co.uk

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Don’t let your fundraising suffer from “brandjacking”

Are you familiar with the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” Sometimes I feel like I’m living that game show every day with my own fifth-grade son. He’s currently reading a book called Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food and shared a fact I didn’t know: Our world’s population more readily recognizes McDonald’s Golden Arches than it does a cross. In spite of the numerous global religions our societies celebrate and defend, the Golden Arches is a more familiar symbol. Wow. Talk about a powerful brand.

Nonprofit brands connect the donor with action

Can you imagine fundraising in an environment where everyone knows what your organization is and what it does? What a luxury, right? Our latest addition to the CausePlanet summary library focuses on this exact idea. Jeff Brooks, author of The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand, argues that a nonprofit brand must genuinely cultivate donor action.

Nonprofit leaders who follow the corporate sector’s lead on how to build a brand should follow no more. “Simply applying the principles of commercial branding to nonprofit fundraising is exactly the wrong thing to do. It’s the cause of most branding accidents,” says Brooks. He argues with an abundance of experience that a brand should inspire donors to give rather than convey abstract ideas or visuals that leave donors feeling as if they’re not needed. Brooks also guides you on how to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with branding efforts and to maintain the donor-focused approach that will ensure long-term fundraising success.

Why commercial branding doesn’t work

Namely, commercial branding focuses on abstract ideals of products or services. A nonprofit brand needs to show donors a problem in a realistic way and give them a way to combat it. It needs to show clear, emotional images to motivate and connect with its donors. It needs to know its donors and their preferences.

Don’t get “brandjacked”

According to Brooks, nonprofits must avoid “brandjacking” (“when ‘Brand Experts’ remake a nonprofit brand and render it ineffective for fundraising”). The warning signs include:

1) The new brand is not aimed at your donors.

2) The new brand requires you to abandon your donors to seek new, possibly fictitious ones, instead of expanding your base.

3) The work is not grounded in donor behavior (what donors do instead of what they say about your organization or understand in focus groups).

4) The new brand describes your cause in a symbolic way, instead of in a clear, realistic fashion to move donors to act.

5) The new brand requires absolute consistency, not leaving room for creativity or varying the messages for changing circumstances or relationships with donors.

6) The new brand is design—and little else.

We asked Jeff Brooks about “brandjacking” and his book in our author interview contained in the Page to Practice™ book summary. Here’s an excerpt:

CausePlanet: What is the most common form of “brandjacking” you observe in your client work today?

Brooks: Most common: a nonprofit hires someone from the corporate world and gives him/her carte blanche to transform the organization. That person has little or no understanding of the charity economy, and that lack of understanding plays out in branding and marketing activities that drive away donors. It typically takes two years or more for the organization to realize the size of its mistake, and by that time the marketing expert is ready to move on anyway. Then a bunch of staff gets fired or laid off, assuring there will be no organizational memory of how the brandjacking happened.

CausePlanet: What do you hope readers do with their brands after completing this book?

Brooks: I hope they’ll feel confident and equipped to build a donor-focused organization that loves and respects donors. I hope they’ll create amazing calls to action that empower donors to change the world. I hope they’ll start marketing to donors instead of organizational insiders. I regularly see organizations go through this kind of transformation, and not only does fundraising revenue skyrocket, but people in the organization start to love their work a lot more.

A widely known brand is a very tempting goal for nonprofit organizations, yet Jeff Brooks would caution you not to let slick corporate examples lead you away from a brand that genuinely connects donors to a call to action.  “The mistake many nonprofits make in fundraising is to think when it comes to talking about the cause, ‘bigger is better.’ They believe the philosophical underpinnings of the cause are more important than its specific activities,” adds Brooks. Think less about the Golden Arches and more about how your donor can help.

See more:

The Brand IDEA
Brandraising

Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

Image credits: decoratescotland.com, francisanderson.blogspot.com, dunia.com, skateboardmag.com, fullyreconditioned.com

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