Your Promise Is Your Brand

Keeping the promises of your mission statement is critical to having successful marketing and fundraising programs.

An organization’s brand is the perception of its commitment to its promises.  When the promises are kept with a high level of regularity, the brand is strong.  You have favorite companies and products.  Those are the companies and products you trust the most.  They have earned your trust by keeping their promises to you.

Most nonprofit clients can chose between several nonprofits when seeking services.  If that is true for your nonprofit and you have the capacity to serve more clients, then you know that there are prospective clients who are choosing another service provider because their brand is more attractive. Spending more money on marketing or changing the marketing plan is unlikely to be successful.  Capacity utilization will increase when the value of your brand increases.  In other words, the solution is to determine which promises in your mission statement you must do a better job of keeping.

Capacity utilization is one measure of brand strength.

Highly satisfied clients are loyal advocates for your mission, referral sources for donors and new clients, and they become donors.  The highly satisfied are living proof that your nonprofit keeps it promises.  Think about how strong your nonprofit would be if more clients were advocates, referred others, and became donors.

Client satisfaction is another measure of brand strength.

Every nonprofit is in competition with several other nonprofits for donors, donations, and grants.  Donors have a need to give.  They shop for a place to give just as they shop for a place to buy oranges.  If a consumer buys oranges from the cheapest and closest store, when a stronger brand enters the market the consumer will find it easy to switch.  Find out where your donors are switching to and what you need to do to strengthen your brand.

Donor loyalty is another measure of brand strength.

Rarely does any organization hire everyone they make an offer to or keep every staff member as long as they would like.  However, organizations with strong brands are more successful at hiring and keeping the people they want.

Staff and volunteer recruiting and retention are also measures of brand strength.

Next Step:

Measure the strength of your brand

Determine which promises need to be better kept

Create a plan to strengthen your promise keeping

Create measurable goals for each measure of brand strength

Share your plan with your current donors and ask them to support the change process

Creating a strong brand is a challenge for every organization, as this recent survey by Gallup points out.  It is also an ongoing challenge.  Like all of the other contributors to a nonprofit’s sustainability, brand strength is never high enough and erodes quickly without constant attention.

The good news is that improving brand strength like the other contributors to sustainability is something every nonprofit can do at minimal expense.  In addition, brand strength is something most nonprofits pay little attention to, so it provides you with an opportunity to establish your nonprofit’s uniqueness (another contributor to increased sustainability).

Since actions speak louder than words, make sure that your actions (promises kept) send the message you want your stakeholders to hear about your brand.  In addition, make sure you have the data that puts an exclamation point after the message.

Take It Further:

Conduct an annual review of your brand strength

Ask the board to allocate funds in each year’s budget specifically for strengthening your brand


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