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As Seen In: Inside Philanthropy

Weak Branding Can Hinder Fundraising. A New Toolkit Offers Help to Nonprofits.
By: Holly Hall
November 11, 2020

Nearly 500 people in more than 60 countries have taken advantage of a new toolkit that helps nonprofit organizations establish better brands and improve their ability to raise money.

The Responsible Brand toolkit, as it is known, was created by Riggs Partners, a marketing consulting firm based in Columbia, South Carolina, and Verynice, a Los Angeles company that specializes in branding, marketing and design. The curriculum is available for free, though the creators request a voluntary fee of $15 to $25.

While individuals can complete its exercises, the toolkit has far more impact when a nonprofit’s staff, board members and other key stakeholders go through the exercises together, according to its creators.

Those exercises involve defining a group’s organizational culture, business strategy and brand marketing — and setting aspirational goals in each of those areas.

“Our experience in working with nonprofits for over 20 years is that, all too often, their business strategy and brand marketing are less than optimal, which directly impacts their ability to raise money,” says Teresa Coles, president of Riggs Partners. “Our objective with nonprofits using the toolkit is to help them see the connection that exists among their culture, business strategy and brand marketing. When this kind of alignment is in place, nonprofits can markedly strengthen their ability to develop a clear case for support and back it up with demonstrations of proven impact.”

Organizations that complete the toolkit emerge with a “brand canvas” that summarizes each group’s purpose, mission, vision, values and goals. In addition, the brand canvas defines the organization’s key strategies for achieving social good and communicates the lure, promise, essence, drivers and attributes of the organization’s brand.

While all types of organizations — including companies and government agencies — can use the toolkit, it is particularly useful for charitable organizations whose leaders often put advanced business practices behind an all-consuming goal of helping others or making the world a better place.

“Our nonprofit clients,” Coles says, “have told us time and again that going through this kind of exercise has greatly impacted their success. It brings everything into a central perspective and gives them a platform on which to lead and make better strategic decisions.”