If you want a great nonprofit brand, hire great people. If that’s all you do you’ll be on your way. Yes you need to tell great stories, close the loop and find ways to connect with your core supporters and heroes but it starts with great people. And not just your fundraisers and leaders.
I spent a bit of time as a community manager, have managed others and am part of an agency that does community management for organizations and I have to say that it is one of the hardest things to do and one of the last things you should outsource. This is YOUR community! Outsource your accounting. Outsource your creative work. Heck, outsource your strategy even. But don’t outsource your front facing, community engaging work like volunteer management, community management, face to face fundraising and so on.
Seth Godin wrote a nice little piece on how the people at the front have more power with your brand. In addition to not outsourcing the valuable front lines, if you commit to this there are…
3 Real Implications for a Great Nonprofit Brand
1. You need to clearly define your brand (who you are and what you’re up to in the world).
How can your brand be disseminated clearly from the people on the front if it’s not clear? Not written down. Not available in an easy way. The answer is it won’t. So you need to document your brand in a clear and concise manner.
2. You need to intentionally train, equip, empower and value those people on the front lines.
Once you have your brand articulated clearly, you have to ingrain your people so that it is lived out. Not just spoken about but actually lived out and practiced. This only happens if you are intentional about it. And it’s not just your fundraisers. Whoever answers your phones interacts with more donors every day than your fundraisers probably do. Same with your community manager. They have more access and interactions with donors and potential donors than anyone in your entire organization so why do you let an intern or “young person” do that? Or even worse, you offer them little to no training on your brand? Value it and be intentional.
3. You need to build up great people and get rid of bad ones.
The quickest way to ruin a brand is to keep bad people who don’t fit. Notice how I didn’t say hire bad people who don’t fit. That will happen from time to time (hopefully less and less though). It’s how quickly you identify that fit and potential and either look to build and empower or get rid of and move on.
You may think your brand is some words and visuals but it is about so much more, mainly your people. Understand who you are and what you’re up to in the world, be intentionally about ingraining this in your people to live out and build up great people and get rid of bad ones. That’s how you can get a great nonprofit brand.