Branding for nonprofit organizations

Large and established non profit organizations realize the importance of branding efforts and most of them employ dedicated P.R managers to steer their branding effort. In case of smaller organizations, the board members have to wear the hat of a PR manager.

Why branding?

Nonprofit organizations operate in a competitive environment – competing against each other for the limited resources available for them.

Why do some non profit organizations fare poorly despite being committed to their mission? The answer might lie on how the organization is perceived by its donors, the Government, the employees and the general public – or by what could be termed as branding of the nonprofit organization.

Branding helps to grab the attention from amongst competing ones and make an impact on people whom they are targeted at.

Branding not only aims at bringing funds but it also serves to attract volunteers and in getting a greater voice in public-policy deliberations.

What constitutes branding for nonprofits?

Branding of nonprofit organization refers to all image building exercises undertaken through which the organization’s mission and activities are so portrayed as to build commitment among donors, employees, customers, vendors and the public at large.

The following are some of the most basic elements touched by branding exercise –

1) The Names – Corporate name, fictitious names, project names etc.

2) The Logo

3) Icon/ Ambassadors

4) Brochures, leaflets

5) Quality of Publications & stationery,

6) Special events and fundraisers.

7) Website – design/content/technology

8) Relationship Management Practices

9) All Internal and external communications

Steps Involved in branding

Step 1) Drafting a branding statement

A branding statement in short is a declaration of “who we are, what we believe, what we do, why we are different and why you should put faith in us.”

A written branding statement helps the organization arrive at a consensus on the message that the organization would like to portray through all its P.R exercises.

Step 2 ) Implementation

Being consistent – Consistency in message adds to donor and stake holder comforts. Branding brings in consistency.

Being Different – Differentiating one self from competitors – their strengths, their strategies, their target, their services, their capabilities etc. could rightly be termed as the heart of all branding exercises.

Being  targeted – If you try to please every one you end up pleasing no one. Knowing the target market and deciding how to appeal to it and serve it is the final culmination of branding exercises.

Step 3) Ongoing evaluation and management


Peter F. Drucker rightly summarizes the branding requirement for non profit organizations in these words – “It is not enough for nonprofits to say ‘we serve a need.’ The really good ones create a want.”