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Why non-profits need a clear, core identity

By November 22, 2012February 17th, 2015No Comments

When we ask non-profits to identify their communication challenges, many list the lack of a good website or need for funds.

Valid concerns, but there’s usually a more fundamental issue that goes unacknowledged: core communication messages and identity. Getting this right is essential. Websites, campaigns, ads, etc are all merely tools communicating this identity.

Why do non-profits need a clear, core identity? For two compelling reasons – one external and one internal.

  • The charities and causes space is more crowded than ever before and non-profits can no longer just be ‘organisations that do good’. They need to be brands that stand out and build relationships with their audiences. This helps compete for limited resources: audience’s mind share to create awareness and their giving power to raise funds.
  • It helps the staff understand the organisational culture and beliefs – tying their work to a cause. This in turn can be a huge motivating factor, and in times of organisational change or crisis, even be a unifying force. A clear, core identity can even define areas of intervention and work style, and thus guide operations.

What does this core identity comprise? A set of values and beliefs, the guiding vision, and tangible ways of achieving them, are the fundamentals. It also defines how the brand shares these messages with audiences, thus creating a communication framework for the non-profit’s staff, supporters and communication partners to use.

Non-profits needs to address this core identity challenge as much for-profit enterprises do; it’s the first step towards a holistic approach to communication.

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