nonprofit branding

One-to-One Review ProcessYou guys are so smart! I love it when you share a marketing technique that’s made all the difference in the world to you. There’s no better model for the rest of us.

Thanks today to Jennifer Johnson, director of marketing & communications at Advocates. I worked with Jen to develop a first-time brand for this human services agency providing a breadth of programs and services throughout Massachusetts. Here’s the inventive approach she designed to solicit prompt input throughout the brand development process:


Nancy Schwartz on May 4, 2016 in All-Org Marketing Team | 1 comment
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Flickr: Ben Solah

How many of your communications projects go nowhere because the approval process is a landmine? For many of us, that happens way too often. We diligently do our homework, developing buy-in from colleagues (by highlighting what’s in it for them) and sourcing practical insights on audience habits and wants.

We use these guidelines to get “it” right, whether it’s a first-ever formalized organizational talking points, campaign mini-site, new program marketing plan, an anniversary celebration approach, or… Then, we sit down again with those colleagues (or send a reply-to-all email with requests for specific feedback if folks are in multiple locations) to get interim or final approval.

Suddenly everyone’s a graphic designer, or a writer, or a creative director. Chaos ensues, even though we shaped the deliverable to what we heard from these same colleagues. I think you know what I mean.

There is a better way—be as strategic in your review and approval process, as you are with your marketing and fundraising work.


Nancy Schwartz on March 8, 2016 in All-Org Marketing Team | 0 comments
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connectWelcome back to our new Do-It-Differently series, featuring fresh ideas from the field. Thanks to today’s idea generator—Todd McPherson, development director, IFCS.

We revised our tone and content to be more direct, frank and engaging—like a one-to-one conversation: For example, we’re showing results of donor generosity (rather than talking about them) and sharing organizational changes in progress. 


Nancy Schwartz on December 8, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Branding

Thanks to guest blogger Caryn Stein, VP at Network for Good

I’m so eager to share with you the incredible learning experience I had at the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) . I learned all about nonprofit rebranding via Farra Trompeter, Vice President of Big Duck, and Will Nolan, Senior Vice President of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD). Here are a few key takeaways to help you understand the potential of brand for our causes, and knowing when it’s time for a change.

First Things First: What’s a Brand?
Your nonprofit’s brand represents your identity, your promise to donors and constituents, and the consistency of your work. The principles outlined here are relevant whether you’re shaping a first-time (intentional) brand for your organization, or you’re rebranding.


Guest Blogger on March 25, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Visual StorytelingWhen executed well, visual storytelling cuts through the clutter, delivering  a mental image that resonates and is remembered (so more likely to be repeated).

Take this unforgettable example from MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action). I couldn’t look away, but instead lingered on the image, taking in the different women and their range of expressions. Most importantly, the photo quickly and memorably conveys not only what MAMA does, but how—improving health through educating and supporting moms via mobile messages. That’s a tough concept to get in a flash, but this photo says it all.

You can do it too! When you have your message hat on, keep an eye out for the image that says it all, and ask and train your colleagues to do the same. You’ll know it when you see it (or get a vision of what set up will be unforgettable), just like the  MAMA folks did.

BTW, MAMA does great here on the relevance scale as well, leading linking this visual story with International Women’s Day (coming up later this week).

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box!
Register here for Getting Attention email updates.

More on Visual Storytelling

Nancy Schwartz on March 4, 2015 in storytelling | 0 comments
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Nonprofit Branding Case StudyHow one organizations shows, rather than tells, its unique value and impact (a.k.a. brand)…
Bittersweet news from the Upwell team. I opened this email tentatively this morning, a little afraid of what I’d be getting. I’ve followed Upwell with great excitement since its founding four years ago—learning so much from its fresh, collaborative and completely open approach to ocean conservation.

I’ve also been thrilled (comms nerd that I am) by Upwell’s practical but inspired communications approach, built on authenticity with a dollop of humor. Take Upwell’s tagline, The Ocean is our client. Seldom do I see an organization so sharply and succinctly convey its passion, approach and hoped-for impact in a way both provocative and memorable.


Nancy Schwartz on January 13, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 3 comments
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High-Impact Nonprofit Website DesignThanks to guest blogger Alex McLain, who designs engaging websites for nonprofits as a member of the Wired Impact team.

Creating a new website for your nonprofit is a mind-boggling task. You’ve got a million questions reeling through your head throughout the process, but one of the most important to consider is: “How important is the role of design in our website?” Without a doubt, your answer should be, “Very important.”

In order to wow website visitors and keep them returning to get more info, make more donations, or sign up for events, your site needs to stand out in a sea of websites that “get the job done.” Here are 10 ways great visual design drives website impact:


Nancy Schwartz on November 19, 2014 in High-Impact Websites | 4 comments
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Nonprofit Branding Case STudyRead Part One first

There’s so much to learn from the approach United Animal Nations took to rename and rebrand the organization….as Red Rover.

Here’s Part Two of this useful case study, via Director of Communications, Marketing and Development, Leili Khalessi.

Q: So you went directly to renaming on realizing United Animal Nations wasn’t working for you?

A: Nope. We tried something much easier first (and we’re glad we did).

We began using UAN as an acronym to attempt to correct misconceptions about our organization. But…


Nancy Schwartz on October 29, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Within the first five minutes of meeting Leili Khalessi last year, I learned that she and her colleagues were in the process of rebranding their organization, including a new name. As Marketing and Communications Manager with (what is now) Red Rover, Leili was right in the middle of that challenging project. So I jumped on the opportunity to ask if she’d share the organization’s experience in this marketing adventure.

Most important takeaways:

  1. Pinpoint the problem you’re trying to solve with your marketing decisions, especially when it’s as big as a new name
  2. Ensure your organizational name/brand is recognized (and repeatable), before you invest in program branding. If you don’t, you’re likely to end up with people thinking your organization provides that one program only, which limits your growth in size and direction.

Here’s part one of this useful case study:


Nancy Schwartz on October 14, 2014 in Branding and Messages | 4 comments
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Use summer to rejeuvenate I’m seeking your ideas this time round!

Please tell me (in the comments below) what your summer camp looks like—i.e. how are you planning to use summer to get inspired, energized and even smarter? And how will you integrate that experience and the results into your work approach and/or activities in the fall.

Pls share your ideas and hopes here. I’ll report out via a guest post for Network for Good.

BTW, here’s my plan.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Nancy Schwartz on June 10, 2014 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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