The Bold, Focused Ideas of Breakthrough Nonprofit Brands by Carol Cone
A few weeks ago, Beth was kind enough to host a book giveaway and New Year resolution contest for nonprofits to celebrate the launch of my new book Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding, which I co-authored with Jocelyne Daw, Kristian Darigan Merenda and Anne Erhard.
The book advances the essential function of strategic branding within the nonprofit world. Its core message is that a focused brand meaning is critical to a nonprofit to fulfill its mission and robustly serve its stakeholders. A crisp brand meaning should be the filter for decision making internally as well as externally, especially regarding the building of community around the organization’s cause, partnerships, communications and revenue generation.
Building on this concept, Beth asked nonprofit leaders to enter the contest by explaining what their organization’s singular, most important activity would be in 2011 that would at-once drive social impact, engage supporters and increase revenues.
While I faced a difficult decision culling winners from the forty focused initiatives described in the entries, I selected the following based on their innovative and courageous approaches to a variety of social issues, from new types of housing for the underserved, to animal welfare, to women’s empowerment.
The winners of the contest, and their entries, are:
· Entoure, Sarah Allen
“My business supports an organisation called Entoure in Australia who stages challenging events to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for critically injured kids.
Next year, we hope to develop Entoure’s presence online to provide a truly virtual counterpart to their cycle and fitness events so that our online supporters and friends of the cyclists can experience all the effort in preparing for the ride and they 400km/3 day challenge itself – with blogs, videos, images, live commentary, audio interview. We want to reach new markets and better engage with existing supporters to bring them closer to the caring Entoure community.
We also want to better empower our participants and supporters to spread the word about Entoure by developing content for our social media channels that is unique, exclusive and kick-ass!”
· Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, Katie Kellett
“In 2011, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville (VA) will start building its precedent setting project, Sunrise Park. Sunrise is the first trailer park redevelopment in the country that will transform a trailer park into a mixed-income neighborhood WITHOUT displacing the trailer park residents. The project will create a model for compassionate redevelopment that can be replicated in hundreds if not thousands of communities. Trailer parks are the housing of last resort in many communities, but the sad fact is that those housed there may own their trailer but often do not own the land beneath it. They face the possibility of losing their home when redevelopment threatens. This model lets communities create new affordable housing in beautiful neighborhoods, and uses the strength of the market to help pay for it.”
· Project Animal Worldwide, Ellen La Torre
“Project Animal Worldwide will be investing its focus and energy twofold. An island-wide educational campaign in Puerto Rico to educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering and vaccinating their dogs and cats, in hopes of alleviating the drastic conditions for the 100,000+ “satos” (street dogs) that are homeless and roaming the beaches and streets of PR. We will be looking for major sponsors to make this a long-term campaign that will extend to all areas of the island.
Second, organize local veterinarians, municipalities and animal rescue organizations in working together to provide low-cost spay/neuter and promote adoption of the satos.’”
· SafeAmerica Foundation, Bill Soule
“Mobilizing 1 million people! in 2011 to be involved in disaster training programs leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, called the “March to 1 Million” program. Now that’s social impact! It kicked off December 1st at USA Today headquarters with a summit meeting.
We’re the Safe America Foundation. http://www.safeamericaprepared.org
In 2010, SAF’s “Drill Down for Safety” project mobilized nearly 800,000 people with national texting drills! Underwritten by Motorola, UPS Foundation along with support from Verizon.
Another feature of the program will be Safe America’s recruitment of First Ladies/Spouses in ALL 50 states to lead local, state educational efforts — building on West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin and her husband, Governor and Senator-Elect Joe Manchin’s efforts that reached 40 states in 2010 and had the active involvement of Governors and First Spouses in Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Washington state, West Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Utah and Tennessee.”
· Women’s Center of Tarrant County, Susan Fine
“The Women’s Center of Tarrant County has a name problem, as we serve women, men and children…about 82,000 a year. We are NOT a shelter. We are Rape Crisis and Victim Services, Employment (80% placement rate for women and men), Adult Literacy, general counseling for women and families, legal clinic…and on and on. Though we’ve been serving the community of Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas for 31 years, we are challenged with people understanding our programs, since we are not ONE program, but many. We finished a 5-year Strategic Planning this year and marketing and branding are at the top of the list.”
· YWCA of O’ahu, Marlene Zeug
“YWCA of O’ahu: we are 110 years old, and while we continue to empower women, in the era of ‘networked nonprofits’ we are trying to shift “how” we do this away from the traditional transaction (the YWCA tells and members receive) to the transformational engagement (the YWCA asks and listens as members tell).
This has completely impacted the operations of our day-to-day. It also means we must change the YWCA story.
The act of listening first and then responding – not in isolation but through and with others in the community – is a shift in our role. We are no longer the ‘doers’ but ‘connectors’ who catalyze change by listening to our members, and connecting them to the resources they need to accomplish their goals. It was a simple equation that built a movement of 20,000 women in Hawaii at our peak.
We have programs for women and programs for girls, but the commonality is the single most important activity for us in 2011 and beyond: being the best at being connectors – connecting women to tools, resources and each other – so she is empowered to make positive change for herself, her family, and ultimately, her community.”
As explained by Jennifer Dorian, SVP Network Strategy & Brand, TNT, and U.S. Fund for UNICEF Volunteer, “Be brave, bold and bigger than the whole organization – that’s what breakthrough brands do. It’s got to be an invitation to join a cause and a movement.”
Congratulations to the winners for their bold approaches, and thanks to everyone who shared their resolutions with us! I wish you all luck in your 2011 brand journey.