The Nonprofit Sector’s Most Pressing Issues: The C-Level Exec’s Point of View
“Use strategy as the basis of your argument,” he added. “As far as application is concerned, your brand is not universal. What are our four or five audiences, and how do we communicate differently to each? Your branding and fundraising should be principles-based and outcome-based.”
Harrison added that donors want to understand your work and how it’s relevant to them. But that’s harder than it sounds. “Stop being arrogant and focusing on what’s important to us; focus on what’s important to donors,” Harrison said. “Are you going to give donors what they want, or what you want?”
An audience member chimed in: “Brand is so hard to manage these days because of the cyber world — social media. How do you combat that, combat people you don’t control?”
“We are talking about controlling what we can’t control,” Aloma said. “By the very definition, we cannot control that. Social media has made our work more rewarding, but also infinitely more difficult. Monitor the conversations, but manage what you respond to.”
Aloma then offered these guiding principles:
- You have to be truthful — this is non-negotiable.
- Within each truth, there are some things you can’t do legally — know the rules and laws.
- Speak to each different audience according to its language, but within your brand.
- You always have to think about how you can be flexible within the inflexible truth.
“Social media keeps you on your toes. It’s good to have some friction to learn from, and it helps you innovate,” Aloma said.
McGregor said Greenpeace spends lots of time with volunteers and staff on what the organization is about and gives them broad guidelines about the brand. However, he stressed, “you have to let go of some control. If you aim to be truly innovative, you have to reconcile that.”