Branding Your Nonprofit: Part 2 of 2

Kelley Jarrett 10.19.09

A few weeks ago I wrote the first part of an article about Branding Your Nonprofit, if you haven't read that article yet, head on over to part one and come back when you're done!

This two part series is designed to help you evaluate and analyze your brand as well as help you determine the best way to control your brand using multiple mediums, including managing the impact of social media on your organization’s image (following). 

To Control or Not to Control….That is the Question

Social media makes it easier than ever to spread your word. However, any publicity is not necessarily good publicity. Understand the following rules to help make sure you’re embracing the right technology at the right time – and make it work for you, not against your organization:


1. Encourage social networking

Relinquish some control, BUT trust your instincts. In the ever-changing world of Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to understand that you will not have complete control over your online presence. You must release the firm grasp your marketing team may want on your brand in order to harness the power social media allows. 

By trusting your instincts, you will stay true to your brand – remember, any publicity is not always good publicity. While it’s important to give up some control to gain exposure, it’s also crucial to go with your gut. If something feels wrong, don’t do it!


2. Branding is PERSONAL

Word of mouth will do more for you in a single day than thousands of direct mailers, web content pages, emails, etc.

Viral marketing is king in today’s economy. Even in up times, a nonprofit’s staff wears many hats, and doesn’t have time to do all of the work necessary to share their missions and raise money. It’s key to allow your constituents to do some of the work for you.


3. Encourage staff members to join social media sites and use these mediums for outreach

“Those who represent the brand are just as important as the brand itself, so it’s good to trust employees and let them speak to the quality of your work” Danielle Brigida, National Wildlife Federation (


4. Assign one or two “brand managers” to monitor social media site messaging

This allows some control over what’s out there – or at least the ability to report activity to the board. Monitoring can dissipate issues before they become detrimental to the organization and brand.


Case Study: National Parks Conservation Association


National Parks Conservation Association is a powerful brand that strives to protect and enhance America’s National Parks for present and future generations. They communicate their cause and raise money offline, through their website and even via social networking sites. One Facebook user has done an outstanding job raising money for NPCA…under the wrong brand. They use the National Park Service brand on their Facebook application to raise money for NPCA – two highly successful and relevant, but COMPLETELY SEPARATE organizations. 

NPCA has chosen to run with this mistake because of the support and wonderful exposure they receive via this Facebook site. 

Not all organizations would make this decision, but it’s important to understand that in the World Wide Web, these things can and may happen, and it’s important to have not only a policy, but a plan. To reference my previous branding blog, successful branding in today’s social media world is all about flexibility.


Well-branded NPCA Facebook Cause (run by staff member):


Poorly-branded Facebook presence (run by constituent not affiliated with NPCA – logo for National Park Service used to raise money for NPCA):


Is your organization going through a branding process?  Do you have any tips or insights to make it easier for others?  Leave a comment and let us know!


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