In Brandraising author Sarah Durham has adapted the core principals of corporate branding to apply specifically to nonprofit organizations and their communication and fund raising efforts. Her topic is particularly timely today, given that nonprofits are finding it increasingly difficult to raise money in the current economic climate.
The key concept here is that a clear strategy and distinctive organization identity must underlie every successful fund raising initiative. And, much like a barn raising on the frontier, the cooperation of everyone in a nonprofit group is required for success. Orchestrated collaboration, according to Durham, is what nonprofit branding is all about, and to highlight this connection she has coined the term "brandraising."
Durham advocates a three-tiered approach to nonprofit branding. Contrary to popular assumptions, branding is far more than an alluring logo or a clever tag line. It starts at the organization level with basic strategy. This is where the leadership takes time to consider the vision of the nonprofit, its mission, values, audiences and objectives. This stage is followed by the identity level, which includes the pieces that are most often associated with branding - the organization's visual identity and messages. The most tactical stage, which Durham calls the experiential level, defines the venues through which an organization interacts with its audiences, or customers. This includes online communication channels such as Facebook, mobile platforms available through smart phones, and traditional print, broadcast and in-person avenues.
Brandraising explains in detail how each of these levels is achieved, as well as how a new organizational identity is launched and maintained. It also acknowledges that some nonprofits will experience challenges associated with limited resources, and suggests ways to address them.
Overall this is a very good handbook that will provide thoughtful readers with a solid understanding of the strategic processes of nonprofit branding and communications. Depending on the resources, talents and inclinations of some organization leaders, it can also serve as a reliable guide to a do-it-yourself branding strategy that makes sense for the nonprofit sector.
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About the reviewer
Bonnie McEwan (BonnieMcEwan)
I own a communications consultancy in NYC called MAKE WAVES, which serves nonprofit organizations and foundations. I also hold a Visiting Lecturer position at Milano: The New School for Management & … more
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"Sarah Durham, author of 2009'sBrandraising, founded communications firm Big Duck in 1994 to help nonprofits raise money, gain visibility, and make effective use of social media. After 16 years, Big Duck continues to assist organizations from the Cancer Research Institute to the Women's Sports Foundation in building strong relationships with key constituents both online and off." (Fast Company, March 23, 2010)