Volunteers and Brand Consistency

The board and other supporters are the voice of your nonprofit brand in the community. Properly trained, these volunteers are your marketing secret weapon. But they need tools to become effective and prepared.
Here are four steps you can take to ensure your volunteers are a positive force for your brand.
1. Teach the Message.Board members, donors and programmatic or “field” volunteers should each have an “elevator pitch” for your organization, so named because it should only take about as long as a trip in an elevator. The pitch includes your mission and vision for the world, who you reach, why you care, and what change you are making in your community.
2.Connect the Message. It is also essential that the pitch include the volunteer’s own personal connection to the cause.They should include a personal story or anecdote of why they care so passionately about your organization and cause.
3. Practice the Message.Even experienced staff, volunteers and board members can get off message. That’s because they are so involved in the day-to-day work of the organization. Provide regular opportunities for everyone to practice their brand message and hone it in a friendly atmosphere. I’ve done trainings where board members practice giving the pitch to one another, and you’d be surprised how even the most experienced among them have a hard time getting the pitch down to something under 90 seconds. One pitfall that leads to too lengthy a description, is board members often try to describe “how” rather than “who.”
4. Live the Message. Once they’ve practiced their pitch, volunteers and board members should be encouraged to introduce the nonprofit to people they know, through family, work and play.These individuals may become future donors, volunteers or board leaders.
With these four steps, you are on your way to ensuring your volunteers extend your brand effectively into the communities you serve.

Nonprofits Boost Brand Impact with Social Media

In a recession, successful branding may seem to be a challenge for nonprofits, but there are also opportunities to improve brand awareness.

Brand defines an emotional connection between the entity providing a good or service and the people it wants to reach. Corporations measure the impact of their brand by market share and profits. For nonprofits, the product is change. Successful nonprofit branding communicates the change the organization makes in the world quickly and easily to a multi-layered audience: people in need, donors, volunteers, staff, public policymakers, and the general public.
In difficult financial times, some for-profits will be able to increase market share because advertising costs go down and/or their competitors go out of business.  Nonprofits can also take advantage of the new fiscal playing field to jockey for better position. One tool they can use is social networking sites. These allow nonprofits to magnify their brand power and increase reach for minimal overhead and out-of-pocket costs. For example, an increasing number of nonprofits are creating Facebook group and fan page sites to increase “market share.” Readers/viewers are not just potential donors, but also current and future volunteers–the lifeblood of nonprofit work. Organizations can use traditional online tools (web, email) to drive existing supporters to these pages.  At the same time, they can encourage their “fans” or “members” on the social networking site to spread the word about the mission they care about.  501(c)3’s can also register as a “cause” in order to raise funds. And they can take content originally created for web, print and video and re-purpose it to find new audiences on these sites. You-Tube offers another opportunity for building brand awareness. Video through this web portal can be a powerful tool to tell how a nonprofit is changing lives.
So while the economic times are creating fundraising challenges, nonprofits can and must take advantage of social networks to spread their unique brand of change.