Some of the NGOs we work with show huge concern about their “Brand”. They are horribly concerned that their brand is not well known in the development sector and thus are sceptical about the success of their fundraising plans due to low brand awareness.
When we dig deeper into their ideas about “ Brand” and “ Brand Awareness” and put some queries like how do you define your brand, and how did you come to the conclusion that “ Brand awareness is insignificant? “ we realize that most of it is linked to perceptions and physical attributes like logo, colour and visual representation of the NGO’s name.
The amount of time and other resources NGOs spend on beautifying and improvising the physical attributes of the brand is not a joke. Unfortunately, overlooking the various underlying core attributes of a brand, like an experience and values, is a folly.
Concern about Brand awareness is a hopeless case like running in the wilds; ultimately you would run out of breath. No organization has enough resources to completely undertake all the branding activities. More than the physical constituents of the brand, its important to recognize the experiential components.
A brand is a set of values you are ready to suffer for and the experience which you leave with those who come in contact with your brand. Only through exclusive values, handling perceptions and experience, one can develop a brand that is unique.
Unfortunately, with big creative agencies driving the development of Ngo’s brand as a product, the focus shifts more on the pictorial and visual aspects rather than the inherent work, value and experience that the NGOs deliver to society.
Now, let’s dwell a little on whether a good physical representation/ creating appealing visual design and creatives is core to an NGOs brand? I as an individual would disagree.
The people/ prospects/ supporters/ donors who come in close contact with an NGO, don’t care much about how the brand is depicted in terms of colours, design and presentation.
Neither do they care about the colours and the fonts. What the supporters care about is the “Cause” which the NGO is championing? It’s the cause that draws them to the NGO, and rightly so because it’s the core differentiator about how the NGO is positioned in their mind and perceived.
Recently, at one of the board meetings, I told that XYZ organization is our competitor and spending lots of resources in developing their brand, and we can’t match them in fundraising.
The reality is that for an NGO it’s futile to spend the hard-earned resources on brand raising. In fact, you don’t need a brand for raising funds, but your fundraising efforts would build the brand if you are able clearly to pitch your cause and the values you stand for.
In face to face fundraising, a typical facer in India approaches around 120 prospects to close a donation. So, on average, the facer listens to around ‘119 Nos “ for every new donor they recruit for their charity.
The most important aspect to be looked at is that all these 120 people get introduced to your brand. Prospective donors to a Non-profit organization make donation decisions, based on whether the non-profit’s cause matches their inherent need to do something great.
A well-trained fundraising team should pitch the cause with such passion that even if the prospect says “No” to their donation request, the prospect should leave with the thought that “Today, I lost the chance to do something wonderful”. If the NGO team is able to leave behind this feeling with every person they come in contact with, trust me you would never need to spend a penny on brand building.
The brand is the set of values for which you are ready to suffer and still hold it high.