April 19, 2010

Embracing Branding with Non-profits

Andrea Naddaff at the National Provider's Council Annual Meeting

I had the great privilege of participating as a panelist in National Provider’s Council Annual meeting two weeks ago. The keynote address was on The Power of Branding.

What struck me the most was the power of the topic.  Those of us who live and breathe the world of “brand-speak” know it is often a repeated topic and ubiquitous on the conference circuit.  But to the crowd of professionals in the non-profit human services sector, it’s a whole new word.

The oversized, generic room of the Natick Crowne Plaza was filled to capacity with a captive audience, eager to learn more about the basics of branding. Their funding has been cut, their resources are strapped, and on top of all of that they need to raise money while also building and elevating their organizations profile. Similar thoughts came from audience members about being relieved and grateful that their industry is finally paying attention to brand and to its role in building a successful organization. The interesting thing, however, is that people whose organizations are built around servicing others need to service themselves first.

Recently, President Obama called on Americans to “serve their communities,” citing that “public service is transformative, helping both the individuals that serve and the communities that benefit.” Those in the non-profit sector often forget about the advantages shared by all when they put themselves and their potential brands first – it will ultimately make them better at helping others.

I encourage these professionals to take the time, for themselves and their beneficiaries, to explore cost-effective branding options such as social media. Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs make brands come alive and instantly connect them to their communities.  After all, when the opportunity to create a brand is pushed aside, the chance is lost to creatively make your mission come alive for all – clients, sponsors, volunteers and more – to see.

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