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Lasting Impression: Moving Your Brand Beyond Logos and Letterhead  

A good brand is more than skin deep. It is the impression people have of your organization that goes beyond colors, design and catchphrase and stands for something innate to your organization, says Jocelyne Daw, vice president of marketing and community engagement at Imagine Canada, a national nonprofit headquartered in Toronto.

An effective brand is inspiring and unique to your mission. If properly developed, it has value far beyond marketing, guiding mission-based services, communications outreach and development activities.

Daw this week offers eWire readers a glimpse into a book she is writing called Building a Breakthrough Nonprofit Brand: From Mark to Movement, which she and coauthors Carol Cone, Kristian Darigan and Anne Erhard plan to unveil at the 2010 AFP conference in Baltimore.

Building a strong brand, she explains, or going through the often dreaded “rebranding” process, means doing more than giving your organization’s image a face-lift. In the changing environment, to differentiate their organizations and gain community support, nonprofits are strategically building brands that stand for something that their constituents care about and will stand behind. They develop a brand that provides clarity and uniqueness, gives purpose and unifies staff, volunteers, and supporters to action behind a cause that is bigger than the nonprofit itself. They adopt and embrace this new way of thinking about nonprofit brands and in so doing propel their organizations for bigger impact and greater good.

Now, you may be wondering, how have we gone from branding being a marketing tool to being this high-minded ideal with almost magical qualities? Well, it is still a marketing and critically important communications tool. But knowing what you stand for in a deeper sense, before you even begin to write a tagline and draw a new logo—is not magic. It’s just smart.


Can you name, in a word or two, what your organization stands for? Does it align with your mission, vision and values? If not, Daw explains, you haven’t yet done the work necessary to convey a strong, clear and consistent brand. The best brands, though they have a lot of meaning behind them, can be summed up in just a few words. A breast cancer organization that supports survivors may have the single word, “sisterhood” to represent and reflect the brand they want to resonate in the hearts and minds of supporters and other constituents. That word may appear in materials, but it is the idea that becomes the rallying point that can help with the kinds of images used, the fundraiser’s case for support and the way programs are carried out.

Another important element of a “breakthrough” brand is uniqueness, Daw says. Not only does the idea you convey about your organization sum up the values and aspirations of the organization and those who support it, it also sets the charity apart and carves out its own niche. Though a core mission is permanent, the way the mission is carried out, for example “to help kids,” can change if other organizations come along and work under the same general mission. Branding can help communicate the unique strategies that your organization has developed to face current problems. Though mission, vision and values rarely change, strategies must evolve with changes in environment, Daw explains.

Why build a brand?  By building a breakthrough nonprofit brand, nonprofits will be more effective in driving diversified and consistent donations and revenue, maintaining donor and stakeholder loyalty, and motivating, recruiting and retaining top executives, staff, and volunteers. A strong nonprofit brand can be the most stable and sustainable asset of an organization living long past management teams and short-term economic troughs.

A brand should be a rallying flag for supporters, Daw says. And remember to make it focused, simple and compelling. “A brand that tries to be everybody to everyone will end up meaning nothing to anybody.”

About the Book

Daw’s book on breakthrough brands will feature twelve visionary nonprofits as case studies and will showcase the seven breakthrough principles that they collectively used to build, manage, integrate and leverage their brand for greater return on investment. The espoused principles are not simple additions to traditional views of branding; rather they reflect the emergence and acknowledgment of an entirely new way of thinking about nonprofit branding, how it works, what is possible and the implications for the third sector.

Jocelyne Daw is the author of Cause Marketing for Nonprofits: Partner for Purpose, Passion, and Profits, part of the AFP Fund Development Series, available in the AFP Bookstore (go to and click on AFP Marketplace and Bookstore).

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Check Your Mindset to Market Your Way Out of the Recession  

If you don’t believe your own message, who is going to believe you? Here are some tips for successful, “I think I can” marketing.

By Elaine Fogel

There’s doom and gloom in the air. Most nonprofits are feeling the pinch. Gifts and support are only limbering along, and anxiety reigns supreme. If the current recession has you biting your nails and snapping like a turtle, it’s time to change your mindset. Survival comes to those organizations that are proactive and fit.

An economic downturn isn’t the most ideal time to begin to market your mission. So, if your marketing to date has been reliant on fundraising events and word-of-mouth—with no additional components to your mix—then you may find yourself at a disadvantage. But, if you’ve been complementing your activities with other marketing strategies and tactics, now is a good time to sit down and do some planning.

Do Some Primary Research

First, talk to your current and prospective donors and stakeholders. How are they hurting? What can you do to help? What are their challenges? Listen and they’ll give you some valuable information.

Make Use of Secondary Research

Next, read whatever you can about marketing in this economy. Look for studies and survey results that shed light on recession-based messaging that works. See what can translate well to the nonprofit sector.

Plan, Plan and Plan

Sit down with staff and evaluate what your organization has been doing, what it can continue to do and what needs adaptation or adjustment. Develop an abbreviated strategy that identifies who its target market segments are and the most cost-effective ways of reaching them. Who are its ideal donors? Where can you find them? Which publications do they read and which websites do they visit? This information will uncover appropriate communication channels. There’s no point in casting too wide a net and spending money ineffectively.

Do You Have the Right Mindset?

Then, as a decision maker, do some soul searching. Ask yourself some hard questions and be as honest as you can with your responses.

1. Do you value marketing and what it can do for your nonprofit? Have you been marketing all along? If, yes, you’re in a good position to re-focus and do what it takes to ride out the recession.

2. Do you have chutzpah and an entrepreneurial spirit? There’s some element of risk involved in a proactive, recession-based marketing approach. Calculate these risks, make the best decisions you can based on the knowledge you have, and take action.

3. Do you have fortitude and a stick-to-it mentality? Can you follow through with a marketing strategy to completion? Can you recognize when you need to make adjustments along the way?

4. Are you creative? Can you (or your team) come up with new ideas that can grab your prospects’ attention?

5. Are you positive? Yes, we all suffer from doubt and concern in times like these, but can you maintain an optimistic attitude? People are attracted to success and a positive approach. Would you want to get involved with an organization that may not make it?

Look at cost-effective marketing tactics

Social Media

  • Read about and understand social media.
  • Find blogs where you can post comments at
  • Be authentic.
  • Share your organization’s stories and build relationships.

Word-of-mouth marketing

  • Get and use testimonials from donors, volunteers, and those who benefit from your work. Place them (one at a time) on your website, in newsletters and in direct mail.
  • Do a great job and your stakeholders will become your brand ambassadors.

Develop professional marketing/fundraising materials
Professionally designed and written marketing/fundraising materials invoke credibility.

Cause marketing

  • Look for potential business partners that tie into your mission.
  • Research everything about them.
  • Evaluate what your organization can bring to the table.
  • Make proposals win-win.
  • Believe and beget for both sides.

Other ideas to explore:

  • Explore co-branding opportunities with other organizations.
  • Distribute online news releases to increase SEO (search engine optimization).
  • Submit articles to publications.
  • Provide amazing customer service internally AND externally.

If you can turn your mindset around and develop marketing strategies and tactics that are sound and cost-effective, you may not only survive—your organization may actually thrive.

“Recessions offer what may be unprecedented opportunities to market in an environment of relatively less noise, as others cut back.“ (Advertising Age)

Cutting your marketing efforts now will certainly cut your costs, but do nothing for building brand awareness for your mission and capturing donors’ attention. Use this time to turn adversity into advantage. Learn, listen, and market smartly. 

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC  in Scottsdale, Arizona. She serves on the AFP marketing and communications committee as well as the Greater Arizona Chapter board. She is offering a free webinar on March 17 called “Keeping Customers: How Nonprofits Can Build Customer Loyalty” (See active link in electronic version of this eWire story).

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How to Build and Promote an Online Monthly Donor Program  

By Harry Lynch, CFRE

Think turning yearly donors into monthly donors involves a flood of time, energy and paper? Think again. Learn how to incorporate a recurring online gift program without all the sweat.

Whether last year ended better than expected or as badly as you feared, the question in 2009 is—what next? What can your organization do to ride out the storm? How can you accomplish even more—most likely with fewer resources at your disposal?

Many nonprofits are focusing, more than ever, on leveraging value from their current constituents. Savvy fundraisers know that re-tooling their monthly giving programs is one way to keep costs low while achieving exponential upgrades.   

While monthly sustainer programs have long been a part of our “fundraising toolkit” the expense of monthly reminder mailings, and the costly follow-up process required for success, has limited the value of monthly programs for many nonprofits—at least until recently. But the advent of automatic online transaction tools has dramatically changed the landscape.  

These days, getting started is the easy part—deceptively so in fact. Most online donation processors now offer the capacity for recurring gifts. If you don’t already have the capability, it’s likely that you can easily add that component to your current online donation processing module. But having the basic functionality is a very different thing than building a program and effectively promoting it in multiple mediums.  

Getting the Word Out

The first step is to create a special “landing page” that explains, in simple language, how the program works and what the advantages are. Be sure to make it very clear how one can opt out at any time. (Very few of your donors will!)  Then develop prominent and enticing links and pathways throughout your website to the monthly giving signup page. Frequently mention monthly-giving opportunities in your email appeals and e-newsletters. At least once a year, consider a special targeted email campaign that specifically promotes the program and invites your donors and prospects to join.  

Everywhere and anywhere, point out the advantages of giving this way—how small gifts quickly add up, the ease and security of donating and of course the benefits the regular income stream provide to your organization and its critical programs.

Monthly giving programs also are a vivid example of potential synchronicity between your online and offline marketing efforts. You can bolster your success online by promoting the program in your printed newsletters, developing inserts for your direct mail packages and even testing targeted direct mail that sends offline donors online to sign up to be monthly sustainers. Last but not least, your acknowledgements and welcome packages—offline as well as online—will most likely prove to be a wonderful point of opportunity for promotion.

A handful of very large charities have proven that TV campaigns and large scale telemarketing efforts are highly effective ways to build monthly sustainer programs. But if you don’t have those resources, don’t worry. Even with a tight budget, you can find many other creative ways to promote your own sustainer program, from handing out flyers at your events to having staff or volunteers call or email monthly donors and prospects when they are about to lapse.

What is the biggest mistake you can make? To get discouraged in the early months of promoting the program, as the results first arrive in a slow trickle. So many charities give up much too quickly. But so many others have stuck with it and seen the magic in the math … when two become four … eight morphs into sixteen … then dozens transform into hundreds.  For these organizations, persistence pays off with significant upgrades and high value donors, who renew at rates of 90-plus percent for virtually no cost.    

What more can we ask for in times like these?

Harry Lynch, CFRE, is CEO of Sanky Communications in New York and currently serves as vice-chair of the AFP External Relations Division. AFP members may submit stories or offer story suggestions to eWire by contacting

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Get In Touch: Two Upcoming AFP Presentations Focus on Marketing  

AFP is pleased to present two compelling Web/Audioconference presentations related to marketing.

Donor Touchpoint Management

The first presentation takes place this Thursday, Feb. 26 and is titled, “Introducing "Donor Touchpoint Management" – A Marketing Approach to Donor Relations.” It will be presented by Janet Hedrick, CFRE, senior associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Bentz Whaley Flessner and author of a new book, Nonprofit Essentials: Effective Donor Relations.

The session will examine donor relations from a marketing perspective and will describe the interactions with the donor, including acknowledgement, recognition and stewardship, as a series of "touchpoints." The session will outline specific ways that touchpoints can be planned and managed and how the individuals involved with the donor, both in the development office and beyond, can participate in "touchpoint" management. "Donor Touchpoint Management" expands donor relations beyond the scope of acknowledgement and recognition and describes "everything that happens between asks."

Registration is still open for this Feb. 26 presentation. Sign up today! Go to the AFP website ( and click on Education and Career Development. Follow the link to AFP Web/Audioconferences.

Successful Online Outreach

Another AFP Web/Audioconference on marketing will be held Thursday, March 12, titled, “The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We're Forgetting) About Online Outreach.” The presenter is Katya Andresen, chief operating officer of Network for Good and author of Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes.

With all the shiny technology tools out there, it's easy to be blinded to the fact that technology is about bonds, not wires. It is human connections, not electronic ones that matter. In other words, some very human principles make or break the success of absolutely everything you do online. In this session, two marketing experts—including the progeny of a psychiatrist and a devotee of Buddhist principles—share the seven things everyone wants and show how you can achieve marketing "enlightenment" by tapping into them in all you do online.

Participants will learn what drives online outreach success, the seven things everyone wants and how to plug into those principles to achieve online success.

Register today for this March 12 presentation! Go to the AFP website ( and click on Education and Career Development. Follow the link to AFP Web/Audioconferences.

Full participation in each of these sessions is applicable for 1.5 points in Category 1.B – Education of the CFRE International application for initial certification and/or recertification.

The full 2009 AFP Web/Audioconference Series schedule is available online. Don’t miss these great live presentations by experienced fundraising practitioners and experts!

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Miss New Orleans, Miss a Lot!  

The core benefit of AFP’s International Conference on Fundraising is the extensive series of sessions presented by many of the best fundraising practitioners in the world. Many of these presentations are geared to help you address skills and trends affecting fundraising in these difficult economic times. To register go to

You won’t find this breadth of topics and depth of knowledge at one event, for one low rate, anywhere else than at AFP’s annual international conference. Invest in yourself and invest in your organization, and get the tools you need to overcome any challenge!

Described below is just a sample of the more than 145 presentations taking place at conference.

Annual Giving

AG2: Advanced Annual Giving Techniques: Taking Your Program to the Next Level
Learn how best to use prospect screening tools, how to maximize renewals and most cost-effectively acquire new donors (Monday, March 30, 1:15-2:30 p.m.)

Capital Campaigns

CC3: Capital Campaign Public Relations Plans: A Blueprint for Campaign Success
See how a strategically designed marketing and communications plan can motivate your constituents and raise the public image of your organization (Monday, March 30, 2:45-4 p.m.)


PG1: Research Unveiled: What Every Fundraiser Needs to Know about Bequest Giving
Presenters will reveal the latest insights into bequest giving behavior resulting from three new studies. Learn how the recession will impact bequest giving, who is likely to make bequest gifts, the differences between men and women when it comes to bequest giving, and how to motivate donors (Monday, March 30, 1:15-2:30 p.m.)

Donor Relations

DN1: How Donors Will Give in a Turbulent Economy
This session highlights the results of a new national research study conducted in January 2009 with thousands of American donors. The study explored how donors' attitudes towards philanthropy are changing and whether those changes are motivated by the economic downturn or by other factors (Monday, March 30, 8-9:15 a.m.)

Distinguished Speaker

D9: Economic Empowerment in the Age of Obama
Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, will discuss the new role of philanthropy as a partner in closing the economic divide (Tuesday, March 31, 3 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.)


MKT5: Smart Marketing for Nonprofits
Learn how to build organization-wide commitment to a comprehensive marketing plan to increase awareness and revenue (Tuesday, March 31, 8-9:15 a.m.) 


ACFRE 4: A Presentation and Dialogue: Is the Nonprofit Sector on the Right Track?
The nonprofit sector faces many challenges in an environment of global economic crisis, decreasing public trust, and heightened policymaker interest in accountability and disclosure. This ACFRE Presents session will explore how the sector should respond to these challenges and what nonprofit organizations should do to promote active governance, a quality workforce, adequate performance measurement and an ethic of social responsibility (Tuesday, March 31, 1:30-2:45 p.m.)

Register today to attend AFP’s International Conference on Fundraising in New Orleans. The AFP conference website ( features a complete, searchable online listing of presentations. See you at conference!

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Newly Revised CFRE Review Course Now Available

AFP’s CFRE Review Course offers development professionals an opportunity to review the main components of a complete fundraising program. It is a two-day, intensive program that provides an overview of skills, techniques and program components based on fundraising experience at the five-year level. For more information on hosting the course in your chapter, please contact AFP’s Professional Advancement staff at (703) 519-8494 or email

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AFP Now Accepting Proposals to Speak at 2010 Conference

AFP is now accepting proposals to speak at the International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore on April 11-14, 2010. The online proposal form is now available in the Speaker Service Center ( The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, April 24, 2009.

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