On August 15th, Todd and Tammy Rimer of element212 joined us for a webinar entitled “Building and Communicating Your Nonprofit Brand.” They explained that how you present and communicate your brand can make all the difference in how successful you are at pursuing in your mission and gaining support. In case you missed it, you can watch a replay here:
Steven: Well, good afternoon. Thanks to everyone who’s joined us for
today’s webinar. And good morning if you’re on the West Coast, of course.
Thanks for being here for today’s webinar entitled ‘Building and
Communicating Your Non-Profit Brand.’
My name is Steven Shattuck, and I’m the VP of Marketing here at
Bloomerang. And I’ll be moderating today’s discussion. And with me,
actually at the Bloomerang office here in studio are two experts in non-
profit branding, marketing, and communications. I’m very pleased to
introduce Tammy and Todd Rimer. They’re of Element212.
Hey there. Good afternoon to both of you.
Tammy: Thank you. We’re happy to be here.
Todd: Good afternoon.
Steven: Yeah. It’s great for you to be here. For those of you who
aren’t familiar with Element212, they’re just a really great agency here in
Indianapolis. They’re a neighbor of ours here at Bloomerang. Todd and Tammy
are both the founders. They’ve been working the last few years to help
position their clients in the marketplace by developing and executing
branding and creative strategies. And it’s just a real treat to have them
here today to share all of their expertise. I’ve actually had a chance to
look at their slides, and I’m really excited about what they’re going to be
For those of you who have attended Bloomerang webinars in the past,
we’re going to do something a little bit different today. Tammy is going to
run through her presentation, and she’s going to share all of her expertise
with you about non-profit branding and some of the things that her agency
is involved with. And we’d like this presentation to be a little bit more
interactive than maybe what you’re used to experiencing from Bloomerang.
So, if you have a question, or if you’d like something maybe expanded on or
explained a little bit further, please feel free to send questions through
via the chat screen on the webinar interface there on your computer. And
I’ll see those, and Tammy will also see those. And we’ll actually stop and
answer them rather than waiting towards the end for more of a formal Q&A
So, don’t be shy. Send any questions over and we’ll try to field
those as best we can. And we’ll try to have you out of here by the two
o’clock Eastern hour for sure – maybe even finish a little bit early. As
always, I will be sending out the slides and the recording of the
presentation later this afternoon, so maybe if you’ve miss something or
want to look over it a little bit later, you can certainly do that.
So, without any further ado, I’m going to hand it off to Tammy, and
she’s going to get our discussion started. So, Tammy, take it away.
Tammy: All right. Well, thank you all for being here this morning, and
we’re going to jump right in. Our main focus for today with the brief we
have together is we really want to be able to help you guys better
articulate your brand’s story and your communications with your donors and
volunteers in the community at large. What Todd and I have found in working
with a lot of non-profits is that many companies and organizations, they
don’t understand really what branding is. And so, I really first off just
wanted to break it down to a small concise statement of this: Your brand is
the representation of a relationship.
Now, I always use Wal-Mart as the example of this, because there are
people who love Wal-Mart, and there are people who hate Wal-Mart. But we
all know Wal-Mart has a brand. They have a good brand. Good in terms of
noticeable and out there. But for some people, their brand is bad, and it’s
because the relationship that people have with them is poor, whether Wal-
Mart has missed expectations, or just if people don’t feel like they’re a
good company. They don’t have a good relationship with them.
So, the point of today’s webinar is to really help you guys put
together good tools to build better relationships with your community. So,
the four key things we’re going to talk about are why your company exists.
We’re going to talk about engagement with your community. We’re going to
talk about why you. Why your organization? And then, why me, the donor, the
volunteer, or the community. Why am I involved with you? So, these are the
four topics that we’re going to go through today.
So, we’re going to jump right in with setting the first expectation
of building a relationship with your community, which is why you exist. So,
how did you community learn about your organization? Most companies and
organizations have a website. They have brochures. People set up social
media. But with non-profits, there’s a really key component to building a
relationship with your community, and that is through your people, through
your donors, through your volunteers. Non-Profits, they’re very relational,
and people are often the first and most impactful way that others are going
to learn about your organization.
So, where I’d like to start is, with your organization, how often
does your organization talk with your volunteers and educate them on your
brand story? Do you guys even know what your brand story really is? So,
what I want to challenge today and some points that we’re going to go
through is looking at your whole organization top down. Everyone involved –
your staff, your executives, the president, the CEO, your volunteers.
Everyone needs to understand and get behind why you exist.
Todd: Let me interject if I could.
Todd: One of the reasons that Tammy and I started having an affinity
towards the non profit is just what you talked about. Non profits all have
great stories. Even if you’re doing something similar to another non
profit, everyone’s story is unique. And what we’ve found is, we just
assumed that everyone was telling their story well, because the story is so
strong and so personable and so emotional for a lot of these organizations.
And what we found is that people’s stories really were not being told. And
when you talk to people, when you talk to an employee or you talk to a
volunteer or you talk to someone who maybe supports them through annual
gifts or planned gifts, the story that they tell is very different. Now,
everyone would have their own personal reason, deep-down reason for being
associated with a non-profit, but you want that story to be as consistent
as it possibly can so that people are hearing the right story and the right
places at the right time.
So, just to give you a little background into that. That’s where our
interests and our affinity for helping non profits came about. We want
people to be able to tell their story as best as they possibly can, because
it’s probably the most powerful tool.
Tammy: That’s exactly it. And so when your organization is growing
just like Bloomerang here. We were talking earlier today about the growth
that this company is experiencing. And just with your own organization, as
your organization grows and new volunteers come in, they’re your
storytellers. And they’re the ones that are out carrying your story to the
community. So, it’s very important to be sure that they really understand
the core of what your specific organization values, what your reasons are
for being part of a certain cause, and why they’re engaged with your
So, the first thing we really want to do is talk about this a little
bit more in detail and look at some key reasons or key information pieces
that you should look at in setting your brand story with volunteers. The
first thing here is who and what cause you serve. These are some key things
you want to make sure your volunteers, your donors know. What causes do you
The Salvation Army is a good example, because there are so many
different things that they do, so many different areas that they serve. And
when we did a presentation for the United Way a few months back, we did our
own fun little survey. We talked to about 40 different people to gain
feedback on what they knew about the Salvation Army, what they felt the
Salvation Army supported.
Now, we have a list here. They have summer camps. 0% of the people
knew about their summer camps. They have an after-school program. 0%
percent of the people knew about the afterschool program. Domestic violence
services: 0%.. Aid to at-risk kids – 3%. Supply Christmas presents 3%,
which is shocking with the red bell, because everybody knows about the bell
and the red bucket. But supplying Christmas presents was not a big known to
the people that were interviewed. Alcohol and drug rehab: 8%. And so, and I
won’t go through all of these, the biggest percentage of what people knew
about was providing food, clothing, and shelter for the needy.
And so that’s just a good example of making sure that your volunteers
and your donors know everything that you serve, because clearly, as these
people are out carrying the story of the Salvation Army, they are not
necessarily representing the brand to the fullest extent. So, again, just
make sure that they know what your causes are. How your organization
affects that cause.
And we’ll talk about this in more detail a little bit later, but the
younger generations, especially, they want to see change. They want to see
that there’s a purpose behind what they’re doing and why they’re giving
their time to your organization. So make sure that you’re educating your
volunteers on how you effect change. The key differences that you’ve made
in the cause, why people should care, and how people can get involved. Make
sure that your volunteers know how to share that when they’re out in the
community and how you can get involved, how others can get involved, and
where they should go to do that.
So, these are some of the key things that you want to consider when
you’re orienting new volunteers into your organization. And this will
really help build stronger brand recognition with your community. It’s
imperative that your volunteers and your donors all are sharing the same
story to build that brand equity.
Todd: I want to interject, too.
Todd: If you go back to that, what’s interesting is I think we all,
everyone on the call, we all think about one or two of these, but what
Tammy’s trying to emphasize and the reason she included all of these is all
six of these points are points that are important to be thinking about all
the time. All the time. It needs to be consistent. It needs to be part of
your daily thought process, your daily dedication. So, when you emphasize
all of these, you are then more equipped and focused to present the right
Steven: And these aren’t just things that a new non-profit would
identify for themselves. This is something that an existing organization
could do pretty regularly just to make sure they’re kind of where they want
Tammy: That’s exactly it, because you want to make sure, as new
volunteers come in, that they’re understanding everything about your
organization. And so I think having – and we’re going to talk about this a
little bit, as well – having regular communications with your volunteers,
orientations, places that they can go just to learn more about your
organization, instead of just, ‘Hey, great. We need a warm body. Go on out
and help serve.’ Or, ‘Go ring a bell.’ Or, go whatever, work in this food
pantry. We want to make sure when people are asking questions that they
really understand part of your organization. And we’ll actually go into
more detail about that in a little bit.
So, engagement is the second expectation that is important to set
with your donors and volunteers in helping to build your brand. Engagement
is interesting because this is where you’re touching your audience. Whether
you’re trying to attract donors or volunteers, or you’re impacting the
community. When you’re communicating, communication falls into engagement.
When you’re communicating with your audience, you want to be sure that
you’re doing it in a place that they are.
Some of the key things, and we’re going to go into a little survey
again with this, but I want to start with this. Some of the key things that
you want to look at with engagement is showcasing to your audience where
they can learn about your organization. Is it through the website? Where is
the information about your next event? Is it on Facebook that we should be
going? Is it your website? Is it a webinar? Is it at an orientation
meeting? You want to make sure that you’re reaching people and getting them
involved at places that they know where you are. What you really need from
them. A lot of organizations really struggle with being honest about, ‘This
is what we need from you. This is our real point of need.’ And we’re going
to talk about this in a minute, but if your community doesn’t really
understand what you need, then they’re not going to supply that for you.
So, make sure that in your engagements and your communications with people,
you’re really sharing honestly what you need from them.
How the money that you do receive – if it’s a monetary donation that
you’re looking for – how that money is being used. Being transparent. And I
know non-profits have to share their financial reports, but really
showcasing. There are a lot of organizations nowadays that will show how
much percentage goes towards overhead, just so people can really know,
‘Well, most of my money is going to overhead. I don’t want to donate to
them.’ But if most of the money that’s being donated is going to the cause,
people will be more likely to donate to your organization. Who your
supporters are. When you’re trying to bring in sponsors, people want to
know who else is sponsoring your organization. So, be transparent with
that. Let people know who your supporters are.
How your donors are thanked. That will make a difference with people
who want to volunteer and donate, too. They want to know, ‘How am I going
to be recognized?’ Some people. Not everyone, but some people do, and
that’s important. And we’re going to talk about this in the survey. But
that is important to people, that they be recognized for their support in
your organization. How they can expect to hear from you and how they can
communicate back to you, and we’re going to have a little segment on
communication being a two-way street. But really building up that
So, I want you to keep these things in mind as we go through this
next piece. But with all of these, when we move into the next piece, 53% of
donors leave due to organizations’ lack of communication, and we’re going
to talk about the key pieces of communication. This engagement piece is so
important. We’re going to spend more time on this than the others, because
53% of donors leave due to a lack of communication.
Todd: Let me interject something. I think this is important. It’s kind of
funny. A lot of times, people communicate by telling someone what something
is. Sometimes what’s even more powerful is what it isn’t. And I want to
step in here real quickly and emphasize what we have found. Whether you’re
a non-profit or a for-profit company, the majority of people don’t really
understand what branding is. And this is why we were excited about doing
this presentation, because the majority of people think that branding
really is the website, the logo, and the business core. So, they look at
branding purely from the visual side. With all the technology, with all the
social media, with all the different tools that are available, branding has
become way more than just that. What Tammy is trying to emphasize here
today is that we’re trying to help you guys rethink what branding is. We
want you to redefine what branding is for yourselves and for your
organization. Branding is so much more than just the look. Branding really
is, and what Tammy is really covering here, it’s everything.
Tammy: The relationship.
Todd: It’s the relationship. It’s like any relationship you have, whether
it’s business, organization, or personal, how you communicate within that
relationship. What you share, what you portray, what message you send out.
That’s a huge part of branding. So, as we’re going forward, I want you to
rethink, try to take what you think of branding and put that aside and
really try to ascertain this other side of branding which most people don’t
Tammy: Yeah, and as you’re looking at these bullet points, look at
your organization, and say, ‘How do we communicate with our volunteers? How
do we communicate with our donors? How do we communicate and engage with
our community? Are there key things in here that we’re not doing that we
could implement very easily to help build that engagement and sell that
relationship.’ And moving from what Todd just said about really looking at
your brand as a relationship, and especially for non-profits, because you
guys survived off of the relationships that you have with your community is
this. This is a study that was actually part of a Bloomerang study I found
out. This is a study done by Adrian Sargent and Rockefeller Corporation.
And we found that these statistics were just pretty astounding. For me, it
was very eye-opening and pretty exciting to see. And I wanted to share this
with you. Hopefully you guys haven’t seen these before.
Todd: Let me interject really quickly. Nowhere in this are you going to
hear… There are no reasons why… Talk about attrition. I want to
correct. Jay Love didn’t do this study. Jay Love quoted this study, but
what’s interesting is, when you look at attrition – and that’s what
Bloomerang focuses on, this ties really nicely into it, because nowhere are
you going to hear people say, ‘I stopped donating or I stopped being
associated because I didn’t like their logo. I stopped going there because
I didn’t like how the website looked. I stopped going there because I
didn’t like their tagline.’ Literally, it has nothing to do with that. So,
Tammy will go into more this, but these are all about emotions and feelings
and impressions. So, go ahead.
Tammy: Exactly. 5%, these are reasons why – let me make sure I have
this. Let’s see. We found these statistics among setting core donor
expectations resulting in them ceasing to support. So, these statistics are
based on the reasons why donors stopped supporting an organization. So, 5%
thought the organization did not need them.
Now, when you go back and look at the bullets that we had earlier,
we’ve talked about letting your donors know what they really need, the
organization sharing what you really need from them. Well, 5% thought the
organization just didn’t need them. 8% no information was provided on how
their donations were used. And again, think back to those earlier bullets.
These are things that we covered. And I’ll just quickly jump back to these.
I want you guys to go back and look at these when you get a chance, because
this is exactly why some of these people left. 9% did not know they ever
even donated. Wow. A nice thank you letter after you receive a nice,
generous check from someone or even a small check, because it’s about
building that relationship. Remind even, ‘Hey, thanks for the donation.’
So, 9% clearly didn’t even get any follow-up, and so they just moved on to
the next non-profit probably. 13% never received a thank you note or
recognition for donating.
Okay. Now, this one, I’m sorry – there’s nothing you can do about
this – 16% died, but there is an opportunity to follow up with family. And
even letting the family know – ‘Thank you so much for your father’s
contributions. We really appreciated it over the years.’ You never know who
you can bring on as part of your organization even through these
Todd: That’s said, I want to interject on that, too. In fact, I just came
across it recently. There are articles being written right now about how
non-profits are trying to engage more with families, trying to create
legacies. So, instead of just focusing on the individual, other people
within the family. Can they create a family loyalty rather than individual
loyalty? Yeah, you can’t control it, but that relationship is still
important, because when it comes to money left behind or maybe the legacy
of their family, a lot of people you talk to, people in the family often
will have stories to tell of their own about ‘I support this, because they
helped my mother. They helped my father.’ Well, if you can build on that
legacy, you can really position yourself very nicely for getting that long-
Tammy: Yes, definitely. 18% felt they received poor service or
communication. 36% out there were other, more deserving causes. And this is
something that we’re going to talk about in a little bit, but yeah, there
are multiple causes out there, multiple organizations serving the same
cause even. But what’s unique about your organization? What is something
special that you do that will keep your volunteers and your community
engaged with your brand? And we’re going to talk about that a little bit,
too. But 36% left, because they thought, ‘Someone else needs me more.
Someone else has a better cause.’ So, that’s something to really keep in
54% can simply no longer afford giving the money. Well, that’s fine,
but there is still time. And so if people come to you, and they say, ‘You
know what, I love your organization. I love what you stand for. We just
don’t have the money to be able to financially support you anymore,’ what
about asking them for an opportunity to volunteer their time. And so, just
keeping that in mind, too. It’s not all about the money, which I know you
Steven: And that’s interesting you say that, Tammy, too, because a lot
of people only say so – and this is sometimes as portrayed, is a lot of
people have this misconception that the only thing that’s needed is money.
‘I need money.’ And a lot of times, that is the communication that is put
out through the brain. So, really, when you actually get in the heart, if
you serve on the board, and you really get to know the non-profits really
well, you see that, yes, they need money to keep things going, but the
time, the volunteer (?), that’s equally important. A lot of people lose
sight of that, and they don’t realize how valuable their time is. They only
think of the money. So, there is an opportunity there. I agree with you
Tammy: Yeah. So, when you look through these, this research, you see a
lot of it comes back down to communication. It comes to poor communication
with their audience, and a lot of these people who left. That could have
been avoided just based on building better communications with your
audience. So, I want to talk about communication a little bit more.
Communication going outbound from an organization is just as important as
communication coming in. Half of these organizations had maybe some more
opportunity for the communities and donors to share back with them. They
might have seen some of these miscommunications and issues. So, gaining
feedback from your donors and volunteers. People coming up and saying,
‘Hey, I don’t feel like you appreciated my donation. I want to talk about
this.’ Or whatever the case may be.
Steven: I think Bloomerang can help with that.
Tammy: Thanks again. Gaining feedback from your donors and volunteers
on the expectations that they even have of your organization is so
important. It’s so important. So, some outbound communications that could
be considered are the following: text alerts, and you guys probably do all
these things, but that was not planned, by the way, but text alerts for
upcoming events. There are so many pieces of software out there that’s
available for organizations now that people can use to just stay engaged
with the younger generations of people who are coming to events or
supporting or whatever the case may be. So, these are some things you might
want to consider. Text alerts. E-newsletters. Thank you letters, like
actual mail thank you letters that are coming back. And people really
appreciate getting snail mail again. News events posted on a webpage.
Blogging and webinars. These are all pieces of engagement communications
that your organization should consider in communicating with your audience.
But just as important, we want to look at some inbound
communications. And make sure that as you’re pushing out your information,
you’re also giving the option through your donors and volunteers to be able
to communicate back with you. A lot of organizations use social media,
because it’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a good way to get information out,
so I encourage you to make sure that you’re using social media, but use it
as a way for two-way communications. Don’t use it as a sales tool or only
just about your events, but engage your donors. Engage people to share
their own stories.
Todd: And social media is a great tool. I want to interject something here,
too. Social media, as we all know, it’s just like anything that’s invented.
It has its good sides and bad sides. It’s like anything, it’s how you use
it. Social media, actually, from a non-profit perspective, is just a
godsend. What we’re seeing the trends are is more and more young people,
through either – not just through financial, but more so like Tammy talked
about, through their time. The old generation’s going out. The new
generation’s coming in. And I’m telling you, these people are engaging
through social media. So, historically, you may not necessarily love or
embrace social media. You cannot afford to say, ‘I don’t believe in it. I
don’t like it. I don’t care for it.’ You have to embrace it, because the
new generation, the future of your organization, is on social media, and
you need to be on there, and you need to put all your effort into it. And