Because it can be seen as taking time and money away from helping people, nonprofits often devote little or no time to developing their own brands.
But this can be a huge mistake.
(Product) Red. Charity:Water. Toms Shoes. These are just a few of the big brands that engage millions in efforts to address some aspect of poverty at the global level. But at the local level, a lack of strong branding means small grassroots groups don’t get the credit they deserve for being the world’s frontline soldiers in the struggle against poverty.
There’s plenty of discussion and research about the growing role of branding for large nonprofits based in wealthy countries–see Harvard’s Hauser Center for the Study of Nonprofits or a long article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review from spring of 2012. But among smaller groups in the developing world, the lack of time, money, and understanding remain major obstacles to branding at their level.
“Some are unaware of the influence branding can have; others realize its potential but have insufficient means to make the transformation,” says Glyn Vaughn, a British audiologist who founded All Ears Cambodia, a small organization in Cambodia that provides medical services to people with ear and hearing problems. In 2007, when they were a team of only three people, All Ears Cambodia became a client of BrandOutLoud, a Netherlands-based nonprofit organization that works with small nonprofits in the developing world to strengthen their communications and branding.
“Large international organizations have stories about project X with a local partner that does this in country Y, implying that these are their children and their project but it’s really not,” says Judith Madigan, CEO and co-founder of BrandOutLoud. “It is really the local partner’s story, and that story needs to be told, or otherwise the local project will always be dependent on the large international organization not just for money but for marketing and to get the story out there.”
Local groups expect international organizations or donors will pull funding from local groups eventually, says Nhip Thy, executive director at the Cambodian Development Mission for Disability (CDMD)–another former BrandOutLoud client. “A local nonprofit group should be prepared to take over in that situation,” Nhip adds. CDMD saw a brand as part of that preparation, but, Nhip says, “many international donors don’t fund for organization development such as branding or communication.”
Given a peer-to-peer fundraising platform like GlobalGiving, thousands of grassroots organizations have accessed tools and expertise to help to tell their stories. Since 2002, $68 million and counting has flowed through GlobalGiving to organizations and projects, mostly located in the developing world. That success is due in large part to those organizations utilizing the branding assets they already have at their disposal.
via FastCoExist – Oscar Abello
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