March 19, 2021

4 Questions that Every Nonprofit Brand Needs to Answer


Since we’re lunching together, I thought it would be fun for this to be a napkin presentation. But first here’s a little fact, when I was looking for my presentation napkin, I found this napkin instead. And what’s funny about finding this napkin is that this is from my son’s birthday party. And this week my son is turning 24. So I’m thinking that this is a sign that I really need to do some spring cleaning for sure, who knows what kind of napkins I have in there.

The one that we’re talking about today, on this Marketing Monday, is this one. Whoop, there we go. We’re talking about the four questions every nonprofit brand needs to answer, and those questions are:  Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? And why should anyone care? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. So why are answering these questions so important to your nonprofit brand? It’s because when you have a strong brand, it boosts recognition and recall, strengthens your relationship with donors, volunteers, and anyone associated with your nonprofit organization, including, it improves your internal culture. So it makes these four questions pretty darn important.

Let’s start with question one. Who are you? The answer to this question is all about your character. Is your nonprofit brand friendly? Do you have a good reputation? Have you been around for a while? Are you constantly thinking of new, innovative things? Do you hold caring for others at your core? When answering this question, make sure to talk about your brand personality and your core values, because these are those foundational things that truly speak to who you are. And here’s a hint. Your core values can be included in this content. They may help you answer this question, if you already have those established. And if you don’t, maybe it’s time to create them. Or if they’ve been around for a while and they don’t speak to you as much as they used to, maybe they need to be looked at again and revised to help you answer this question.

Question number two, what do you do? The answer to this question, in a nutshell, tells your audience what services you provide or what initiatives your organization supports. My tip here is to streamline all that you do into three to five buckets, even though you do way more than that, people don’t want a laundry list of things. They can’t remember that very well. So you want to streamline into very meaningful buckets, so people understand what it is that you do do. For example, Friendship Home offers crisis services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing. There are three buckets that succinctly say what that nonprofit brand does. Here’s another example, Lincoln Community Foundation empowers donors, helps nonprofits and impacts community. Again, three succinct things that say what your organization does in a nutshell.

Question number three, how do you do it? To answer this question, really ties the questions that you’ve already answered in number one and number two together. But the reason this question is so important is because this is where your storytelling begins. This is how you reveal your organization’s secret sauce by combining your personality with what you do to tell your unique story, because nobody does what you do like you do. We want to figure out how to communicate this and then shout it from the rooftops. So, your answer to – How do you do it? – needs to tell how you are matchlessly different from anyone else doing this work.

Things like, Is your staff specially trained in something like trauma informed care? Or do you have an expertise that’s different than any organization that’s doing similar work? These are the things that you want to pull out into your answer to question number three. Here’s a hint. Your mission statement may currently have content that you can use to answer this question. And again, maybe your mission statement needs to be revisited. If not, pull that rich content out and use it to answer question number three.

Question number four. This is an important one, maybe the most important one. Why should anyone care? The answer to this question is key. It describes how your nonprofit is changing the world right now today and into the future. Your response needs to connect people emotionally to your brand, to your organization and what you do because emotional connections drive people to take action. And that’s exactly what you want to do with your message and your communications and your brand. It’s to get people engaged with it, involved with it, and to take it into the future with you as advocates for you. With this question, you need to straight up tell people why they should care about you and about who you serve.

Hint. Another hint. So your vision statement may include, or the answer to this question number four, may include what you already have within your vision statement. And that can be used to help you answer this question.  And again, maybe your vision statement needs a little TLC, or maybe not. Maybe you have that solid and you need to continue communicating that to all of your audiences, but there might be something in there to help answer question number four, why anyone should care? Why and how are you changing the world?

So, let’s recap. This is only four simple questions that your brand needs to answer, but you need to answer them in a way that you can use consistently to share this information internally and externally, both. So by answering these four simple questions:  Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? And why should anyone care? By doing this, you are arming your people, your leadership team, your employees, staff, volunteers and donors, with what you want to say about your organization when you, or they, are on that infamous elevator ride.

For more marketing tips and to see how KidGlov can give your nonprofit brand a hand, go to\nonprofit. I want to thank you so much for joining me today on this Marketing Monday. And I’m going to flash the two napkin presentations one more time. One time I’ll figure this out. Who? What? How? And why? – are the questions that you need to answer. And then I want to leave you with a shout-out and say, Happy 24th birthday Foster Peterson. See you next time. And until then, I hope you have what it takes to answer these four important questions about your nonprofit brand. Take care.

KidGlov is a boutique, full-service, advertising, branding and content marketing agency and certified B Corp, with offices in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, specializing in nonprofit marketinghealthcare marketingfinancial services marketingsocial impact marketing, and purpose-driven businesses.