Branding and charitable organizations

May 21, 2013 

The concept of branding has been implemented in the most successful commercial organizations. Their mission is to differentiate themselves in highly competitive marketing arenas. Yet, the majority of charitable organizations fail when it comes to creating a brand personality which effects altruism.

All too often the branding exercise is the last resort following a crisis or because the current brand personality is deemed no-longer Relevant from the donor’s perspective.

In today’s highly competitive, limited donor dollar environment, it is a survival imperative that “charitable organizations” adopt the same branding principles as commercial companies.

Through effective branding, the non-profit organization can differentiate itself and communicate a single, powerful expression of its values and mission to ensure increased donor retention and growth.

The Economy & Charitable Giving:

Individuals as well as organizations are approached with donation requests on a regular basis. It can seem overwhelming especially during the “giving season” which falls between Thanksgiving and New Years. On average, people make approximately one-quarter of their annual donations in those six weeks. However, nearly 1-in-3 of higher income households (those with a HH Income of $100,000 plus) said they give less during the holidays than they do at other times of the year.


Donors Are Looking For Transparency:

1. Sound business and operational practices (86.9%)

2. Acknowledgement of contributions, including receipts (84.9%)

3. Spend appropriate amount on overhead (83.1%)

4. Protection of personal information (82.1%)

5. Full financial disclosure (74.7%)


Motivations For Giving:

1. Moved at how their gift can make a difference (77%)

2. Giving to an efficient organization (72%)

3. Support the same organization annually (66%)

4. Chance to give back to the community (65%)

5. Philosophical beliefs (52%)

6. Religious beliefs (49%)

7. Remedy issues that affect them personally (47%)


Why Stopped Giving to a Specific Charity:

1. Too frequent solicitation (67%)

2. Decided to support some other cause (46%)

3. Household circumstances changed (34%)

Like their private sector counterparts, not-for-profit brands need to be relevant if their goal is to give donors a reason to think twice before donating their hard earned money to one organization vs. another.

Yours Truly,

James McKenna is the branding manager for the City of Lee’s Summit. Reach him at

Lee's Summit Journal is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service