When people interact with your nonprofit, they take something away with them. Sometimes it’s a sense of pride for supporting a cause that’s important to them, other times it could be a memory of how you interacted with them during the donation process.
This emotional association is a byproduct of your nonprofit’s brand, its identity—how people perceive you. This brand identity is fueled by things like:
- Your mission and how you communicate it
- How your team engages with your community
- Various stories about the people you serve
The power of a strong brand is that it can generate ambassadors. People who take pride in standing alongside your qualities and mission become the very people who share them with their own networks.
Jeffery Martín, a young social entrepreneur who won the $500,000 Global Change the World competition as part of the Forbes Under 30 Summit, has focused on building the identity of his organization, honorCode.
Here, he gives us tips on how you might also build your nonprofit’s brand and grow your impact at the same time.
1. Define Who You Are
It doesn’t matter if you’re defining your nonprofit identity for the first time in history or if you’re rebranding. It’s crucial that you outline who you are and what you stand for, and it goes beyond just crafting a mission statement.
Consider the following guiding questions:
- What does your nonprofit work to accomplish?
- Who do you serve?
- What values do you hold close?
- What personality do you want to convey to the public?
It’s easy to see how honorCode answers those questions:
- honorCode teaches young students computer science
- The people served are from both tech and social impact sectors in Atlanta
- Martín works to instill values of hard work, dedication, and passion in the people honorCode serves
- They want to convey an organization that empowers young learners of all backgrounds to build their future
In effect, this built honorCode’s identity up so that it reached further than just the immediate group of computer science students. Martín saw that a strong brand identity could shape a larger community and, ultimately, the future of Atlanta.
The growth of your organization, community of supporters, and impact starts here. Without a solid brand, there’s no platform for your nonprofit to stand on and keep growing from.
2. Be Bold
Creating and sustaining a sizeable impact is easier said than done, and it can be scary to embark on a bold new venture. If you have a strong brand as a foothold, however, you can feel more confident in your ability to take on new ideas.
You know who you are, what you stand for, and that your community of supporters is backing you. Being confident in your identity is one way you can mitigate the fear of failure when trying something new and untested.
If you falter on this new path, remind yourself of who you are, what you’re accomplishing, and the people depending on you to succeed.
According to Martín, that’s the tipping point when people will start to “galvanize behind you” as a leader. They’ll follow you through feast or famine, as long as your organization holds true to itself.
A big part of your brand identity, you need to show potential donors and fundraisers your passion in order to generate momentum for your cause. And from there, you have to sustain it.
3. Get Granular
One way to sustain momentum is to focus on the granular details of your organization—meaning, the data behind your impact. That’s one of the things Martín prioritizes with honorCode.
In this day and age, supporters demand this level of transparency from the organizations they plan to support. It also attracts corporate sponsors and advisors who see numbers that demonstrate impact.
And as your community grows with you, take advantage of the resources available to you be they advisors or a trusted group of helpful constituents.
That’s the end goal with all of this work: bring your vision to life. If it seems like a steep mountain to climb, remember you’re not alone as you work to accomplish this directive.
The path from idea to success story starts with defining your nonprofit’s identity. Without it, you’re at a disadvantage that could disrupt you from engaging with your community, bringing in supporters, or fulfilling your mission.
Martín is a good example of how a strong brand identity can start small and blossom into something larger than life. If you want to hear more about Martín, honorCode, and how the organization is helping shape the future of Atlanta’s identity, listen to the full podcast below.