Nonprofit Branding Best Practices – Nonprofit Catalog

While it might feel easy to overlook marketing or to think that only for-profit organizations need to consider marketing strategies, you need to market your nonprofit successfully to both new and existing supporters in order to sustain a consistent donor base. To do so, your organization needs to have a cohesive brand that represents your mission well.

What is nonprofit branding?

Nonprofit branding includes all of the ways your organization communicates your mission and goals to the public. It’s a promise to donors, volunteers, and other types of supporters that you’ll work to further the cause they believe in. In other words, branding is a message to all your supporters that your nonprofit has a clear mission and will work toward that mission in all of your activities.

A cohesive brand ultimately instills trust in your audience, so it’s important to understand the essential elements of nonprofit branding. These essentials include:

Essential elements of nonprofit branding include logo, color scheme, typography, and messaging.

  • Logo: Your nonprofit’s logo might include your name, or it could be a graphic or symbol that encapsulates your mission or represents your organization’s activities. Your logo is an essential element toward gaining brand recognition from supporters.
  • Color scheme: Color scheme is another element of brand recognition and should be incorporated across websites, marketing materials, donation forms, and fundraising appeals. Colors have symbolic meanings, and the colors you choose to represent your brand should reflect your mission. For example, many sustainability-focused nonprofits choose a green color scheme.
  • Typography: Like color scheme, typography should be consistent across all of your organization’s platforms. Different font types and styles reflect different tones. For example, a nonprofit that benefits children might have a more playful font (paired with bright colors and images), while a nonprofit that does legal work might choose a more professional, standard font.
  • Messaging: And, of course, the messaging that your nonprofit shares with your audience is a huge factor in how your nonprofit is perceived and understood. All of your communications should have a consistent tone, such as a sense of urgency for advocacy organizations or an air of excitement for an animal rescue.

Nonprofit branding best practices

Once you understand the essential elements of nonprofit branding, there are a few things to consider to ensure that your branding is consistent and benefits your nonprofit. In order to brand successfully:

  1. Create a set of branding guidelines. These guidelines should include standards to follow, such as tone to use in communications or specific words and phrases that your nonprofit uses to describe itself. This will allow everyone across your team to understand what your brand is and how you want to present it to your audience.
  2. Center your brand around your mission. Your mission should be at the center of everything your organization does, and that includes branding. Ensure that your brand reflects your mission accurately so that your supporters understand who you are and what you do.
  3. Be consistent across all of your communications. Your website, emails, social media, physical flyers—every communication that your organization sends should have the same branding. With consistency, your brand recognition will grow, and your supporters will feel more connected to your organization.
  4. Get inspired by other nonprofits with successful brands and websites. There are plenty of organizations out there with a variety of missions and purposes that maintain consistent brands. Check out some of your personal favorite nonprofits’ websites and communications to find ideas for your own brand.

The Best Buddies logo is a great example of nonprofit branding: it’s playful and uses bright colors and a bold font to portray their mission of friendship.

For example, Best Buddies, a nonprofit that connects people with disabilities with people without disabilities, uses a playful logo, bright colors, and a bold font to portray their mission of friendship.

Best Buddies branding is consistent across their website, including in their donation forms.

Note how their donation form pulls colors from the logo to maintain consistency across their website and communications.

Nonprofit branding agencies

Whether you’re new to nonprofit branding, looking to re-brand, or are just looking for some additional branding expertise, partnering with a nonprofit branding agency can make the process easier and ensure that you’re communicating your organization’s message in the best possible way.

Particularly if you are looking to work towards perfecting your nonprofit’s website, a branding agency or nonprofit design firm can be the perfect addition to your organization’s strategy, helping your organization to clearly communicate your mission within the digital space. 

Branding is an essential aspect of a nonprofit’s ability to not only earn donations but also create a sense of unity and community for your supporters. Remember, your brand is a promise, so keep your promise to your supporters, always communicating your organization’s priorities and actions clearly.

Additional Resources