Nonprofit Branding – Focus on the Donor

May 30, 2018 at 10:22 am 1 comment

Have you read the February Harvard Business Review article, “The Most Successful Brands Focus on Users not Buyers“?

“Where traditional brands focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their customers, digital brands focus on positioning their brands in the lives of their customers. Furthermore, they engage customers more as users than as buyers, shifting their investments from pre-purchase promotion and sales to post-purchase renewal and advocacy.”

If we take this and translate into philanthropy, donor engagement and stewardship…

Traditional, well known nonprofit organizations focus on positioning their brands in the minds of their donors, volunteers and community. Those nonprofit organizations who are positioning their brands in the lives of their donors and the impact they are making have a loyal, life long relationship. Furthermore, they engage donors more as advocates and champions than as ATMs. The organizations positioning for philanthropic growth shift their conversations from transactional solicitations to donor centric stewardship, renewal and engagement.

A joint study by SAP, Siegel+Gale, and Shift Thinking found:

“In every case, the legacy brand rated higher on the statement “Is a brand that people look up to.” But the newcomer brands all rated higher on the statement “Makes my life easier.”

  • Airbnb vs. Hilton/Marriott
  • Dollar Shave vs. Gillette
  • Red Bull vs. Coca-Cola
  • Venmo vs. American Express/Visa
  • Tesla vs. BMW”

Translating from the survey:

“The simple view would be that traditional nonprofit organizations brands are transactional purchase brands and digital brands are relationship usage brands. They think of donors customers less as one-time donors buyers and more as donors users or members with an ongoing relationship.

How does your nonprofit brand engage with your donors?

Thanks to the authors – check out CEO title – Chief Epiphany Officer – love it!

Mark Bonchek is the Founder and CEO (Chief Epiphany Officer) of Shift Thinking. He works with leaders and organizations to update their thinking for a digital age. Sign up for the Shift newsletter and follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkBonchek.


Vivek Bapat is the SVP and Head of Marketing and Communications Strategy at SAP. He partners with senior business leaders and global influencers to develop brand, content, customer and employee engagement strategies with impact. Follow him on Twitter @vivek_bapat.

Entry filed under: Fundraising, Nonprofit fundraising, Stuff I Love. Tags: , , , , , .

Relationship Fundraising Philanthropic Concierge

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Barry Novy  |  May 30, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks Barbara,

    Very interesting and appropriate to the RCH.



    Barry Novy
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