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5 brand questions your nonprofit needs to answer

Date Published:

Feb 23, 2023

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Want to start closing the brand communication gap between your nonprofit organization and your right audience? These five questions will give you more brand clarity and direction for effective communication.

One of the biggest struggles and opportunities as a nonprofit professional is to effectively understand and connect with your right audience – from donors to volunteers to funders to recipients, there is no shortage of stakeholders to engage with.

On top of that, the competition for discretionary dollars seems to be ever-increasing and vying for attention from those key stakeholders can seem like a never-ending uphill battle.

If you’re trying to become part of your stakeholders’ daily hearts and minds through strong brand connection, these five questions can help you think about each stakeholder and their individual relationship to your brand.



>> Why does our organization’s work matter?
>> What’s the endgame that our organization is working towards?
>> What are we committed to doing, every day, to bring that endgame to life?
>> What are the different segments of key stakeholders that need to communicate with your brand?
>> What does each stakeholder most need to hear about our purpose, mission or vision to engage with our organization?


Why does our organization’s work matter?

It’s easy to lose the forest through the trees of the day-to-day grind, especially when it comes to marketing, promoting and communicating your nonprofit. There’s donors to thank, followers to connect with, email subscribers to engage with… the list can feel endless and sometimes overwhelming.

Because this sense of overwhelm is all-too-often ingrained in non profit communications, it can be especially supportive to get crystal clear on, and frequently revisit, the organization’s ‘why’. 

Simon Sinek famously said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” 

The ‘why’ is the heart and soul behind the organization; the reason for what you do every day. Even better, it can be a great catalyst for connecting with your right audience on a much deeper level – it adds a human element to the brand and showcases what the organization values. 

And, in today’s crowded communications/marketing world, people are actively choosing to engage with brands that align with their own values because they know that their engagement says something about their identity.

Said another way, when your organization can clearly identify and communicate ‘this is why we do the work’, you’re making it easier for your right audience to join in on, and identify with, the values that align with the ‘why’. You’re making it easy for them to say, “I believe in that ‘why’ too and what it says about me since I engage with this organization.” 


What’s the endgame that our organization is working towards?

Think of this as the finish line. On one hand, the argument could be made that the work will never be done but on the other, defining the endgame is a chance to spur hope, inspiration and motivation about the work you’re doing. Additionally, it helps facilitate connection because you’re sharing where the organization is going which allows others to join in and take part in the process of seeing that vision come to life. 

You may be asking yourself, “Well, isn’t this just a vision statement?” 

Well, yes, but sometimes when we ask a question differently, we’re able to see a gap in the answer and/or an opportunity to improve or update.  

This is also another one of those questions that needs to be frequently revisited. It can be easy to forget why you’re doing the work or lose sight of the end goal. By re-engaging with the big vision, you can not only breathe some new life into your own day-to-day but also re-engage with your right audience. 


What are we committed to doing, every day, to bring that endgame to life?

Once you have the finish line defined, it’s time to take a more narrow perspective and hone in on the day-to-day. Narrow down the details and and define what you want to do, day in and day out, to get you to that endgame.

This question is a great catalyst for helping you simplify your work to something that’s more digestible for the key stakeholders. The answer requires that you simplify the big picture into tangible, daily action steps that are more easy to digest and understand. This change in perspective supports the notion of bridging the communication gap between all the work that’s being done to achieve this vision and the most tangible action items that make it easiest for stakeholders to grasp. Because, as I’m sure you’re well aware, the easier it is for them to understand, the more likely they are to jump on board and advocate on your behalf.

The result of this answer may look similar to your mission statement. But again, it’s intentionally asked in a slightly different manner to potentially give you some different insight.


What are the different segments of key stakeholders that need to communicate with your brand?

The common challenge with brand communication for nonprofits is that they have a variety of personas that need to understand their work in order to move the mission forward. Additionally, each stakeholder will likely have a different need to fill in terms of what are the most relevant-to-them pieces of communication. 

It can be common to think that non profit organizations can get by with dispersing the same message to everyone – or to think that there aren’t different segments within a donor-base that need to hear different messages.

First, think about all the different categories of people who engage with your organization; feel free to get as granular as needed to cover your bases. From different types of volunteers to recipients of your services/work to donors and funders. Who are the people, groups, organizations or communities that contribute their resources to help move the organization forward? 


What does each stakeholder most need to hear about our purpose, mission or vision to engage with our organization?

Once you define the different stakeholders, it’s time to do another perspective shift and think through what they most need to hear about your work in order to engage. 

This goes back to the earlier question about your organization’s ‘why’ and how it often aligns with the stakeholder; that they engage with brands who solidify their own identities through shared values. So, with that in mind, what identity is being filled when they engage with your organization; what need is being filled and supported? And, what does effective engagement look like within your organization for that particular stakeholder? 

What often will happen is that you’ll determine that each of the stakeholders you identified in the previous question have various aspects of your work that will resonate more with them because of their values and identity. Your job is to define that most important message and communicate it to the right audience so you can connect on a deeper and more intentional level.

This is the idea of meeting them where they’re at and making your work as easy to understand for them, so they can engage and advocate on your behalf.


Last few thoughts

I know, I know, these aren’t quick ‘answer and move on’ questions that can be checked off the endless to-do list.


But building brand connection takes time and energy and effort. And when you take your time to go through each one with mindful intention, you can bet they’ll offer great support in facilitating a trusted and connected partnership with your right audience. 

With that, happy branding 🙂


All my best,


Additional brand resources

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