3 Innovative Ways to Spread Brand Awareness for Nonprofits
3 Innovative Ways to Spread Brand Awareness for Nonprofits
Chances are, you can instantly recognize the logos and slogans you see and hear every day. Everyone knows Google’s multicolored lettering and Nike’s iconic swoosh when they see them. That’s the result of effective brand marketing.
When you think of nonprofits, NGOs, associations, and other charitable organizations, your first thought might not be brand recognition. This concept might seem like it’s strictly for businesses like Google and Nike, but the fact of the matter is it’s just as vital for nonprofits as it is for big corporations.
Effective branding influences the perception your community has of your nonprofit, the work you do, and your mission as a whole. It determines whether people will remember your organization and can help (or conversely, hurt) fundraising efforts. If it’s time to revisit your branding strategies, there’s a ton you can do with help from nonprofit tech. It just takes a little innovation.
Even the most experienced nonprofit marketers need some inspiration every now and then, so we’re going to cover a few modern ways to strengthen your brand identity, including:
- Social events
- Branded t-shirts
- Awareness campaigns
By taking additional steps to improve your branding, you’ll directly grow awareness for your organization and (more importantly) your mission. Let’s dive in.
1. Social events
Especially if you’re spreading brand awareness for an association, networking is a key reason your supporters get involved. Oftentimes, people will jump at the opportunity to connect with others who share the same passion for a particular industry or cause. That’s why social events are such an effective way to connect with supporters. They open up the opportunity for your team to answer questions and share updates on the latest projects you’ve taken on.
DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit branding explains that you should highlight what makes your organization unique to strengthen your brand during social activities. What’s the unique approach your team takes to advance your mission, and why is that mission worthy of support? Determine what that cause and unique approach are, and make sure to infuse that into your event.
For instance, if you work for an animal shelter, try hosting an animal play hour where everyone comes to meet your rescues and discuss your recent push for a higher adoption rate. If you work for a homeless shelter, organize a movie night with homelessness or hunger-related films or documentaries and request that attendees bring non-perishable foods to donate.
Bear in mind that with social distancing in full effect, you may need to get creative and take extra safety precautions, whether that means enforcing social distancing, requiring masks, staggering check-in times, setting up sanitation stations, or hosting a virtual or hybrid event.
2. Branded t-shirts
What better way to spread awareness for your nonprofit than by having supporters wear apparel that’s fully branded to your organization? Think about it: how often do you look around and notice people wearing apparel for a nonprofit 5K or half marathon race they participated in?
As part of your brand marketing, create custom t-shirts that showcase your nonprofit’s logo, colors, and mission. Each time your supporters put on their t-shirt or even just see it hanging in their closets, they’ll instantly think about your organization.
Plus, when they wear your branded apparel around town, it may encourage others to strike up a conversation, asking about your nonprofit and how they can get involved too. Even if passersby are more introverted and aren’t feeling particularly confrontational, they may be inspired to do their own research by quickly Googling your organization. Not to mention, apparel is a fantastic revenue generator for your nonprofit.
With custom t-shirts, you’ll spread brand awareness, strengthen supporter relationships, and fund your work.
Bonfire’s t-shirt design guide covers plenty of actionable advice for designing a t-shirt that captures your cause. Here are a few easy ways you can create a standout design:
- Add branded visuals and graphics. Custom t-shirts are a natural opportunity to reuse existing brand creatives like your nonprofit’s logo and other marketing illustrations. Many of these elements pair typography with imagery, helping you strike a balance between the two.
- Choose colors associated with your nonprofit. Your organization likely leverages two or three colors in its marketing materials. Supporters subconsciously associate these colors with your nonprofit, so tie them into your design when possible. Bear in mind that the colors you choose should still provide plenty of contrast, even when your main goal is to promote brand recognition. As a general rule of thumb, use light colors on a dark background and vice versa.
An intuitive t-shirt fundraising platform will make the design process enjoyable and relatively quick, too. That way, you can start promoting awareness and selling your t-shirts faster. Plus, a platform that doesn’t charge upfront costs means you take home every dollar you earn, resulting in a high fundraising ROI for your team.
Before spending time creating your next t-shirt design, double-check that your merchandise provider offers high-quality apparel. After all, the main point is to remind people about your nonprofit each time they wear their t-shirts. The last thing you want is to upset supporters when their shirts are made of scratchy fabric, don’t fit, or wear out quickly.
3. Awareness campaigns
Chances are, you’ve heard of different well-known causes having a month dedicated to spreading awareness. For instance, June is ALS Awareness Month, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and December is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
These designated time periods offer the perfect opportunity to start a conversation about various worthwhile causes. To accomplish this, awareness days, weeks, and months are filled with various activities and marketing pushes that promote a specific cause and familiarize more people with that cause’s role in providing for the community.
If a time has already been established to promote awareness for your nonprofit’s cause, that’s a wonderful opportunity to push your agenda forward by ramping up marketing and hosting awareness events. If your cause doesn’t already have time dedicated to spreading awareness, why not make your own?
This idea is two-fold. You’ll need to account for these two factors as you build your schedule:
- Activities. Activities are a fantastic way to get people physically involved with your cause. One idea that works for pretty much any cause is an awareness walk. However, you might want to get more specific. A shelter for homeless youth could host a night where everyone gathers to sleep in front of city hall or on a nearby college’s campus. A mental health awareness organization could host a mental health resources fair or organize a film screening with an informative discussion panel.
- Marketing. As a professional marketer, you understand the power of a compelling story. Across marketing platforms like your nonprofit’s social media and email newsletters, tell stories from constituents who are directly impacted by your work, or have your volunteers share firsthand accounts of their time with your organization. When possible, pair your stories with photos that drive that story even further. Encourage your supporters to join in by sharing posts about your organization and their personal encounters with the cause, driving others to your organization.
Hosting events, sharing effective marketing materials, and spending time thinking about what activities will best promote the cause will have a direct impact on how people view your nonprofit. With your name attached to everything you share during your awareness campaign, your community will naturally associate your organization with the mission, making your nonprofit their go-to resource when they want to donate or learn more about the cause.
Whether you realize it or not, your nonprofit naturally has a brand that people instantly think of when they hear your organization’s name. Spending time strengthening that brand will improve recognition among your supporters, ultimately driving more donations and increasing awareness for your cause. From events to custom apparel, there’s plenty your marketing team can do to solidify the organization’s image. It’s up to you to figure out what works for your specific audience.