Author Q&A: Jocelyne Daw, Lead Author of Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding
(Nov. 9, 2010) This week we feature an AFP Fund Development Series Author Q&A with Jocelyne Daw, lead author of Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results, published October 2010 by Wiley.
Tell us about your book. How did you come up with the concept/angle/ idea?
Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results is about the power a strategically built, focused, and compelling brand can have for an organization of any size. In an age of nonprofit proliferation and increasingly finite resources, this book is designed to help charitable groups enhance their ability to build and strengthen their most important asset-their brand.
The idea for the book stemmed from my first book, Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion and Profit. It was in writing that book that I realized to be successful in cause marketing and build donor relationships required organizations to have a strong and strategic developed and managed brand. Yet, through AFP research and research for the book, it was clear that few nonprofit organizations understood brand and branding, the value it could provide an organization and how to build a brand that could breakthrough.
The book uses case studies of 11 visionary nonprofits, to show how a constituency-focused brand can revolutionize an organization and the way people view and support it. It reveals seven principles for transforming a brand from ordinary trademark to strategic competitive advantage. The groups profiled in reflect a variety of sizes, breadths, regions, ages, and issues. The common thread is that their brand work has resulted in greater social impact and vibrant outcomes.
As practiced in the real world, many nonprofits define branding as logos, names, and trademarks produced to aid in awareness and fund-raising. However, this limited perspective leaves a significant unrealized value on the table. The book aims to provide nonprofits with a practical roadmap on how to build a breakthrough nonprofit brand from the inside out.
More than simply a cosmetic makeover, at the base level, branding is about identifying what your organization stands for-the unique, differentiated idea that sets it apart. To build your brand requires forging an emotional and personal connection with your core stakeholders. Your brand must stand for a cause-something bigger than organizational activities, something that your constituents care about and believe in. Yet to truly breakthrough, calls for you to rally a community around your brand's meaning and inspire action
Who is your target audience? Who can gain the most by reading this book?
This book is for all those interested in catalyzing dynamic results for the nonprofit organizations they serve. It provides a practical roadmap for:
- Nonprofit leaders to gain new insights, learn proven best practices, and apply practical approaches to organizational challenges. It is written for and using examples from organizations of all sizes and scopes-from a health concern with almost $1 billion in revenues to a small education-based nonprofit that tapped its brand to boost annual earnings from $50,000 to almost $1 million.
- Nonprofit communications and development professionals to deepen their existing knowledge and inspire new ideas. It will help them apply the principles of breakthrough nonprofit branding to their daily to-do lists.
- Board members and volunteers to help their charities of choice expand their reach, strengthen their support and influence, and increase their impact.
- Marketing agencies and consultants to enhance their guidance. It offers groundbreaking-branding practices that are well ahead of generally accepted nonprofit marketing and fundraising wisdom.
- Academics and students to accelerate their learning and bridge the gap between theory and practice.
- Business leaders to identity strong potential partners and help propel their work with nonprofits and the causes they support.
What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you base it all on personal experience or did you interview nonprofit professionals at other organizations?
In writing this book, we wanted to present the new insights, inventive operations, and leading practices of breakthrough nonprofit brands. We conducted a systematic study, using both quantitative and qualitative methodology, to identify principles that could inform the future of the sector.
What are the main obstacles nonprofits face that inhibit the fulfillment of their mission? How does your book help to overcome them?
The world now boasts more than 2 million nonprofits, fueled by a 35 percent increase in the number of organizations in the United States and Canada in the past decade alone. As a result, supporters are often overwhelmed by a deluge of overlapping messages from a vast array of organizations-which are often difficult to distinguish.
In this complicated and competitive philanthropic marketplace donors are having to become more selective and discriminating. Individuals, corporations, foundations, and government all are basing funding decisions on more complex criteria. Examples include values alignment, shared passion and commitment, and the level of trust they have in the NGO's ability to deliver results. A new breed of supporters is holding nonprofits to higher standards, asking tough questions and looking for outcomes commensurate with the time they commit and the dollars they invest.
To stand out, nonprofits must continuously illustrate the ways support is making a difference and increase their relevance through meaningful opportunities for engagement. An authentic brand is a true differentiator and an effective way to connect with supporters. Building a breakthrough brand is the new nonprofit imperative.
Building a Breakthrough Nonprofit Brand: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results provides a practical framework to help nonprofits build a brand that conveys the organization's focus, credibility, and unique contributions. In today's environment, it is critical to focus on ways to stand out and win head, heart and hands. This approach maximizes trust, forges stronger relationships and secures a continuing flow of resources to fulfill critical mission objectives.
Every nonprofit has a brand-regardless of whether it is a priority. A brand is a collection of perceptions about an organization, formed by its every communication, action, and interaction. It is what people collectively say, feel, and think about your organization. In short, it's your reputation, identity, and good will with stakeholders and in the community.
A strong brand can be a nonprofit's most valuable asset. It can carry an organization through good times and bad as well as predispose people toward a personal and emotional connection to the group it represents. Because it is linked to reputation, a strong brand drives tremendous economic, social, and political gains for its organization. In fact, in most cases, brand accounts for more than 50 percent of a nonprofit organization's market value.
Brand building is not a haphazard process. A breakthrough nonprofit brand is strategically focused and thoughtfully built. As the book outlines a high-performance nonprofit carefully defines its brand and what it means to constituents. It uses the brand to prioritize and make decisions about its operations. And it brings the brand to life by aligning mission-based programs, development activities, and communications outreach around it.
With the backing of the CEO and senior leadership, brand building can become the catalyst for continual self-assessment and innovation. It is a must-do for creating a unique organizational identity that is infused with passion and trust. Forward-looking senior leaders ensure that this brand-centric philosophy is embraced by the whole organization. They leverage the brand to strengthen donor loyalty, recruit top executives, rally staff members, meaningfully engage volunteers, drive diversified funding streams, and, ultimately, make a greater social impact.
What nonprofits are doing work that inspires you personally?
Without a doubt, the case studies featured in the book are inspirations to me. They understand the importance of connecting with what matters most to their key stakeholders. They have gotten good at unleashing the collective energy residing within a growing group of brand champions. Most importantly, they have found incredible ways of doing things, ways that work better than what existed before.
What was particularly interesting was that these extraordinary organizations are quite varied. Some are well established, with storied histories. Others have been formed relatively recently to tackle newer social problems. Some are large, with significant operations worldwide. Others are more modest, with operations focused exclusively on local communities.
Some have driven movements and rallied large groups of committed people, resulting in widespread social change. Others have played a different and quieter role but have an equally important place in the sector. They enhance artistic life, help disadvantaged young people make it to college, or support childhood survival around the world. They may not have people marching in the streets, but they compel a critical mass of the right people to help change our communities and the world for the better.
- American Heart Association
- College Forward
- Food Bank For New York City
- Goodwill Industries International
- Inspiration Corporation
- Kids Help Phone
- Memorial Healthworks! Children's Museum
- Stratford Shakespeare Festival
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure
- Fund For UNICEF
Over my twenty-five year career, I have also had the privilege of working with four outstanding nonprofit organizations -two locally based organizations and two national ones. In each one of these organizations a well-defined and executed brand was vital to their success. It was my privilege to play a role in the development and execution of branding work for each one of these organizations. Writing the book enabled me to share many key learnings.
My experience is that is it the people are also critical to determining the success or failure of an organization. And it is people that have been inspirational to me and helped deepen my own understanding of the power a nonprofit can have in the community and what it takes to build a breakthrough brand.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books that have helped you in your nonprofit career?
Yes, I have been heavily influenced in my thinking and practical work by Jim Collins. Built to Last and Good to Great were terrific books and ones that I regularly recommend. His extension Good to Great for the Social Sector was a small but mighty work that strengthened my advocacy of the value of a clear, compelling, constituency-focused brand in creating a strategic competitive advantage for a nonprofit. He is quoted in the introduction to the book. In fact he claims that the role of brand is even more important in the nonprofit sector than the for profit world.
Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Grant McLeod's book Forces for Good was another book that I value in terms of my work in the nonprofit sector. The book showcased practical, tangible examples from real world nonprofits and provided key principles to drive high impact. I regularly recommend this book and frequently refer to as an ongoing source of inspiration and information.
Beth Kanter and Alison Fine's new book The Networked Nonprofit is a great resource and using social media to really engage constituents and measure impact. I also love to follow various blogs and thinking of leading marketing and social purpose oriented individuals who are always challenging my thinking and how I go about my work.
Find Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results in the AFP Bookstore.