How to keep your branding from killing your fundraising

A big idea in for-profit marketing for years, branding is just as prominent in the nonprofit world. More and more charities are looking to define and differentiate themselves by consciously crafting their brands. But the question is, will your fundraising strengthen your brand, or will your brand overwhelm your fundraising?

What branding isn’t. Brand isn’t a new logo. It isn’t a redesigned website, sans-serif typefaces, or trendy color palettes. It isn’t pretentious, haiku-like copywriting. It isn’t artsy ads that defy human understanding. It isn’t social media or other shiny new technologies. When these things are misconstrued as branding, they overwhelm fundraising and lessen its impact — or worse, render it ineffective. Brand is something different. It goes much deeper.

What branding is. Your brand is what you do and how what you do aligns with your donors’ deepest aspirations, beliefs, and values.

Donors will naturally associate certain thoughts and feelings with your organization and your work. If they “get” your mission and have an affinity for it, and if they see accomplishments and outcomes, your brand is strong in their eyes. Your charity will be top of mind when they think about the cause you’re engaged in. As a result, your fundraising can cultivate donors and develop their ongoing support. When branding conveys accomplishment and trust, it confirms to donors that they’re making a difference. That’s essential. It’s why donors give.

Ultimately, donors don’t give to your brand or your logo. In reality, they don’t even give to your nonprofit — they give through your nonprofit to effect change. When that realization drives branding and fundraising, both thrive.

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