April 12, 2011

Two challenges of nonprofit communications

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Achieving brand alignment is the goal of all of the strategic planning, branding and communications of any organization (nonprofit or for profit).  In order to achieve this type of brand clarity, there are two challenges each organization must rise to.

brand alignment challengesThe first challenge is to create alignment between the cause’s brand promise (what you believe you are and how you behave) and the stakeholder’s values (what they believe you should be and how they expect you to behave). In doing so, the donors and volunteers will move from being simply interested to being fully committed.  They will become believers in and partners with the cause.  Ask yourself:

  • Does our cause have a focused purpose?
  • Is it clear to the community why our cause matters, and why it has meaning?
  • Does our organization conduct itself in a manner consistent with our stakeholder’s expectations?
  • Is our mission one that connects with the passion of stakeholders?

When your stakeholder’s values align with your organization’s promise, there is a much greater likelihood of creating affinity for and fuller commitment to your cause. The difference is that donors give, volunteers serve – but believers in the cause will give and serve sacrificially.

The second challenge is to create alignment between the cause’s character or personality (If it were a person, how would you describe it, and would people like it?) and the stakeholder’s perception of its character (If you asked someone else to describe the cause, would they us the same adjectives as the organization would?) Intentional positioning of the cause to help form an accurate perception is key to building authenticity and credibility. Ask yourself:

  • Is our cause perceived as authentic and credible?
  • Is it clear to the community how we want to be perceived?
  • Can we be trusted?  Are donors confident that wee will be good stewards of their donations?
  • Does the community understand what our cause accomplishes?
  • Are we top of mind when our cause is mentioned?
  • Are we different from other organizations that have a similar mission?

Do these considerations mean that you should change your mission or values or promise to raise more funds or attract more volunteers?  Not at all!  What it will affect is how you communicate with your stakeholders and how you position the cause in order to engage the community and potential board members, donors and volunteers.  This is what creates brand continuity.

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