Finding Your Nonprofit Brand — You Can’t Brand if You Don’t Understand

You want phenomenal results with fundraising, volunteer recruitment and all other aspects of your nonprofit organization. And having a great mission is no longer enough. With more 501(c)3s springing up daily, competition out there is fierce. A great mission is a great start, but your organization needs more to succeed.

And a solid brand will take you there. So, how do you go about finding your nonprofit brand that will launch your organization to success?

Your nonprofit brand is made up of three different components: mission, voice and design elements. Don’t think you could possibly develop an entire brand? Think again. We’ve got the steps to help you create a clear and succinct brand that reflects your nonprofit’s true colors.


What is it that your organization does? Now, before you answer by reciting your mission statement, I challenge you to stop for a moment to truly think. Leave out the fancy words that make your organization sound established. Cut the jargon. Now—tell me what your organization really does.

Nonprofit organizations have a branding advantage. The biggest selling point for your organization is the great work that you’re doing. Figure out a way to relate to your audience humanistically. Tell people why they should care about your organization. Reflect that in your mission statement by using compelling language that is easily understood by the masses.


Now that you have a newly branded mission that appeals to a large audience, you convey it through your organization’s voice.

Ask yourself—how do you want others to see your organization? Witty? Passionate? Maybe thought-provoking? Or, even a combination of all three and more. Make a list of all the things you hope for your voice to be. Then, rank them in order of importance. Use this as your organization’s voice chart, complete with descriptions of what those words mean. Make sure that whenever the voice of your organization is prevalent, it meets all the criteria proposed by your voice chart.

Then go back and reassess the language used on your website, social media posts and anywhere your organization has a presence. Remember that your voice won’t always be in written form. Anybody who represents your organization should be versed in the voice chart and know how your organization’s voice should be portrayed in public.


Branding is about much more than just a logo or design. But that doesn’t mean those aspects can be ignored. Don’t think you have the capability to design a logo? Think again.

Back in 1971, Carolyn Davidson was simply a college student who accepted $2 an hour to come up with a logo for Nike. She put in the hard work and after about 17 hours, she had completed her idea. At the time, she received a mere $35 dollars for what would become one of the most recognizable logos in the world.

You don’t need a lot of money, and you don’t need a lot of experience. You too can come up with a logo and design that suits your nonprofit. Stick to a consistent color theme that reflects the ideas of your nonprofit.

Finding your nonprofit brand is as easy as a developing what you want it to be, and then taking the necessary steps to apply those ideas.

How has your organization discovered its nonprofit brand?


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

May 17, 2013

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