Social media has opened up many doors for nonprofit fundraising. Platforms such as Facebook and MySpace have provided a forum for charitable organizations to bring their causes to the masses, solicit volunteers and donations and generate feedback.
An essential element of any nonprofit internet strategy is branding. In order for an organization to make an impact in peoples’ minds, it must be easily recognizable, and preferably elicit a positive response. While branding is fairly straightforward for a physical product such as a line of deodorant or shoes, nonprofits have to go that extra mile to define themselves beyond their stated purpose. Social media provides the tools for the job, but there a number of factors to consider.
1. The brand must grab people’s attention. While gaining visibility is not the only function of a brand, it is the most important. The image should be unique enough to get attention, but not confusing or offensive.
2. Platforms have their own brand and hence, a look. Certain third-party sites will customize pages within certain parameters, but for the most part with social media, the profile and gallery photos and video are the imagery that defines nonprofits in Facebook, Twitter and social sites.
3. Consistency is of the utmost importance when attempting to pair a certain look and feel with an organization.
4. Fonts should generally be minimalistic, even where it is appropriate to be stylized. Style shouldn’t trump legibility. Also, custom fonts may present difficulty as some applications do not allow them to be imported.
5. A good name draws the audience it targets. A charity targeting wealthy socialites may not benefit from a name evoking radical images of a working class uprising.
6. The brand should trigger an emotional response. Getting attention is the first step, but the web and the world in general are full of distractions and linking the brand with an emotion helps etch a nonprofit into peoples’ minds.
7. A brand should appear trustworthy, and consistency and professionalism go a long way towards trust. Experimentation is okay, but should not appear amateurish.
8. While consistency overall is important, it doesn’t hurt to change with the times. Even the most respected brands undergo change, and no one wants to be passé. Alternately, an organization may wish to adopt a more timeless brand.
9. Keep it simple. Although a brand should be eye-catching, avoid clutter. The most recognizable brands use just one or two words in stylized text over a plain background. Also, profile pictures are small and news feed images even smaller, so anything besides a simple image will not be discernable.
10. The brand should always be linked to any product or interaction that occurs on behalf of the organization. Every e-newsletter, wall post and photo should exude the nonprofit’s brand.
With nonprofit marketing as with any commercial enterprise, the brand is important and with these tips and a little trial and error an organization will be well on its way to meeting its goals.
By John Benson