When was the last time you wondered if your nonprofit’s brand is helping your fundraising success? Have you ever wondered? It can go the other way too – could your brand be hurting your fundraising efforts?

First let’s make sure were on the same page with our lingo. What is a brand? It’s more than just your logo. In fact, brand is more equivalent to reputation – it’s everything that people think about when they think about your organization. Communicating a consistent brand message is about more than using the same logo; it also means using the same core messages and demonstrating the same values over time.

Let’s face it: many nonprofit organizations are not good at marketing and don’t see the value. I want to challenge that thinking. Good marketing and branding are essential for successful fundraising. The community needs to hear a consistent message about your organization before they are willing to make a donation. I’m not talking about billboards and print advertising. Let’s start with your stakeholders and your immediate community. Do they know your values? Do they share the same beliefs about your organization? Are you, your staff, and your board sending the same consistent message?

Here are some indicators that your organization might need to focus on branding:

• It takes too long to explain your mission and your programs, and the person you’re talking to loses interest before you get to the good stuff.
• People often think your organization does something different than what you actually do, or they get your organization confused with another one in town.
• Raising money is hard, and now you are chasing money from a funder that likes to invest in a specific area. You’re even considering starting a new program that doesn’t quite align with your current mission.

I’m not a branding expert, I’m a fundraising strategist. But if you’re consistently having trouble raising money or recruiting board members, there is a good chance you need to focus on branding. Not sure where to start or whether you should go down this path? I would recommend a book called Brandraising by Sarah Durham. She explains the importance of having a clear communications plan so you can benefit from better fundraising results and higher visibility. Also check out this great blog post about the Value of Investing in Your Nonprofit Brand from our local friends at Up & Up Creative. Branding is important to make sure people understand your mission, so they can support the important work you’re doing. Onward and upward!