Many nonprofit organizations spend time crafting a mission statement to clarify their place in the world. But it’s important to remember that these elements aren’t meant to be stored away as archived material in your annual report. These core beliefs should be an everyday yardstick for all of your communications.

These four rules can help you focus your all of your fundraising and marketing efforts so they clearly communicate your nonprofit’s unique viewpoint to donors and potential supporters.

Embrace Your Identity.

Your brand is more than your logo or campaign theme. The passion that fuels your mission, your staff, and the stories of those you serve are more powerful representations of who you are and what you do. Your brand’s identity can take on a more personal meaning for your audience. When they become donors or volunteers for your cause, supporters take pride in owning the qualities of your organization and make it part of their identity, too.

Make Good on Your Promises.

What promises are you making to your community of supporters? Beyond the explicit promises you make to your donors in your fundraising appeals or in your annual report (we are good stewards of your gift, we will use 90% of funds for program activities), your nonprofit’s brand becomes a promise in itself, implying certain values each time someone encounters your organization. This is why your work to maintain trust and transparency with your donors is vital. Of course when you’re making promises, it’s important to keep them! It’s extremely difficult for an organization to rebound from broken promises in the eyes of their fans.

Be Open.

Your brand is really based on relationships, and you can’t build meaningful relationships without trust and transparency. Donors won’t fork over their hard-earned cash to support your cause if they aren’t sure where the money goes. Be open about how you manage your organization and how you use donated funds. Welcome questions and be upfront and honest if you make a mistake. Hiding in the shadows only makes people nervous, which is not a great relationship-building technique.

What To Do When Change Happens.

As you work to react to changes in your community, crises, and fundraising ups and downs, it can be tempting to try anything to see what may stick. Something similar happens when there’s a marketing trend or a new channel to explore, like a new social network. When you feel this urge, it’s important to think about the four rules above. Here are four related questions that can help shape your path:

  • Who you are?
  • What is your purpose?
  • How do you accomplish your work?
  • What are your values?

Answering these four key questions will ultimately help you answer a fifth:  are your actions and outreach consistent with your organization’s core identity? If not, it’s time to take a step back to ensure everyone in your organization knows and understands your brand—and how you bring it to life.

This article was adapted with permission from The Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

About the Author(s)

Caryn Stein

Caryn Stein oversees the company's marketing efforts as well as the development of nonprofit training and fundraising resources.  Network for Good helps nonprofits raise more money online with easy and effective fundraising software.    | Facebook | @Network4Good | More from Caryn  

VP of Communications, Network for Good