My colleagues at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard – the same Hauser Center that hosts a Course in Exponential Fundraising – have just released an illuminating 18-month study that will help you more effectively leverage your brand.
You should read this! The insights in this study will motivate you to take a fresh, creative look at your own organization. Plus, these findings dovetail with the basic principles of Exponential Fundraising: redefine the buyer/seller relationship, shift from transactional to transformational and find energy and sustainable growth in true collaboration.
Based on 73 interviews in 41 organizations, the research highlights current attitudes, practices and insights into the role brands currently and could potentially play in strengthening and building organizations.
Here’s the link to the research.
The key findings are summarized in:
- an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review: “The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector”
- a collection of four great case studies—on the World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International, Publish What You Pay, and The Girl Effect
- and a brief summary of the conference held at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York in December 2011
One particularly useful acronym that emerged from the study is called the Brand IDEA. Using IDEA - I stands for brand Integrity, D for brand Democracy, E for brand Ethics and A for brand Affinity – nonprofits now have a more relevant, holistic way to employ the concept of branding for greater social impact, tighter internal cohesion and an improved environment for symbiotic partnerships to thrive.
This innovative style of branding goes beyond the for-profit concepts of graphics, logos and benefit messaging. In the typical for-profit branding model, using a process designed for selling cereal and widgets, management often crafts a top-down elevator pitch and distributes it for unified broadcast. Everyone needs to be “on message.” This is pretty ineffective, especially in our sector, as I wrote in this blog.
Instead, the Brand IDEA style blends seamlessly with your organization’s theory of change. It leverages your partners’ inherent pride fostering greater participation in the process and, ultimately, greater freedom for risk-taking and innovation.
For years nonprofits have been re-purposing a branding process that never really seemed to fit. Now we have our own: a process that flexes to the needs of your organization with wiggle room to grow. Certainly an IDEA whose time has come.