Ask yourself a question... what brands are you loyal to and why? Now take the next step and think about what it would take for you to switch away from some of your favorite products. A compelling commercial? A friend recommended it to you? The colorful packaging caught your eye? Lots of people are already donating to various causes, so why not yours?
What are you known for and what makes you different? You probably know other organizations that serve similiar communities and groups, so what makes you stand above the pack?
Recent surveys have shown that the general public already knows that nonprofits are "understanding, compassionate, dedicated, caring and committed" to their causes, so demonstrating that you are also "efficient, accountable and effective" can go a long way toward people's perceptions of your organization.
The Cone Nonprofit Branding Report is a great listing of organizations that are leveraging their established brands to bring in more donors.
"At a time when donations are decreasing and nonprofits are continuously being asked to work across sectors to solve global issues, leading organizations are evolving and protecting their brands as powerful engines to raise critical funds in the near and long-term. In a sector where more than 1.5 million organizations compete for dwindling resources to carry out their missions, a solid brand identity helps tell an organization’s story. It sets expectations, gains attention, fosters relationships and ultimately helps ensure long-term survival."
Here's a quick exercise for you... think of three key attributes, central ideas or themes that describe your organization. Which of these are unique? Now list three proof points per attribute that support your claim about your organization.
The important thing is to use concrete results-oriented information to increase your perceived value to a donor. When people donate to you, they already care about your cause, so show them (with a mix of actual stories and hard facts) what you are doing with their money.
This is part of an ongoing series of my notes from the NC Center for Nonprofits Conference on September 10 & 11, 2009. Post inspired by Kelly Williamson's talk "Rebranding the Nonprofit Sector."