Giving is expected to be flat to negative in 2012.
There, we said it.
Now, where do we go from here? It is more important than ever to focus on your brand and communications. The good news? Reshaping your communications, for the most part, is free. Sure it takes time, but the ideas we have below are very low cost to implement.
Nonprofits need to be distinctly different than their counterparts. What sets your organization apart? How do you tell your story to compel funders and supporters to give to your cause?
Here is a quick communications boot camp to get your brand back in shape:
- Find your niche. Every organization has their place that is why you are being funded in the first place. Do a deep-dive to remind yourself what makes your nonprofit unique. Don’t be afraid to recruit outsiders—sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to see the obvious. These outsiders can be professionals, like us, or even your newest board member and volunteers.
- Simplify and refresh your message. Can you communicate your nonprofit’s mission in a sentence or two? How about a story that reinforces your organization’s reason for being? Find a new way of saying your mission. Those elevator speeches were getting tired and old anyway.
- Is your passion showing? Your nonprofit is a treasure trove of touching stories about your cause. Take your team members out to lunch and find out why they come to work every day. Ask board members why they lead your organization. Get a video of volunteers talking about why they give up their Saturdays for your cause. These stories are passionate endorsements waiting to be shared. Be passionate out loud.
- Test your assumptions. Gather your best supporters together in person (or online) and have them give you an honest evaluation of your materials and messages. We are all too close to our brands to be objective about it, getting a fresh set of eyes is critical and will make your brand stronger. Promise!
- Try something new. Now that you’ve got a new set of messages, take them for a walk in a new place. Remember that great rewards often come with great risks. Try to learn at least one new communications tool a quarter. Evaluate it to see if it is beneficial to your organization, then keep the goodies and pass on the duds. Learning is growing. (FYI – In the coming weeks we’ll be doing weekly evaluations of new social media networks to add to your quiver of tools.)
What are your thoughts about giving and branding in 2012? What steps is your organization taking to buck the flat lining philanthropy prediction? Let us know in the comments.