December 12, 2016

Need a Brand Overhaul?

By Gayle Carney & Kate Purcell

Don’t Just Skim the Surface, Plunge Deep

You know in your heart that it’s time to update your nonprofit’s website. Or maybe your organization’s logo or tagline is uninspired and you’d love it to sing. New leadership, expanded strategies, a large event on your horizon, or sheer embarrassment – are all common motivations for a nonprofit to redesign its website. Time to write a request for proposals (RFP).

We’ve seen a bazillion nonprofit website RFPs, and they all run along the same lines: “Our old website doesn’t represent who we are today. We want a site that is clean and modern, attracts funders, elevates our issue and provides resources for the people we serve. Make sure it’s easy to update and, oh yeah, have it done in three months.”

But those desires only skim the surface. Underneath it all, what you want is a website that reflects your nonprofit’s deeply held values and helps people relate to the reason you do this work. These needs rarely come across in an RFP — perhaps because they require a readiness to go deep.

Dive-In with Five Readiness Questions

Set the stage for a smooth branding and website development process by considering these questions:

  1. Have you updated your nonprofit’s strategic plan? If so, you are more likely to build a website that stays relevant as your organization grows.
  2. Are your logic models strong? What you choose to say and not say on your website reveals your thinking about how you make your communities’ lives better. Your visitors will pick up on inconsistencies and uncertainty.
  3. Do you have data to back up your claims of success? Good design and writing alone won’t grab your members’ attention. Infographics are compelling because users pay attention to images that carry information and ignore purely decorative ones.
  4. Are your strategies to recruit and retain supporters integrated? It’s vital to weave your online and offline strategies into your site. For example, if you plan to draw in millennials, make sure you have a clear strategy for courting them after your initial contact.
  5. How healthy is your internal culture? Internal issues around decision-making, diversity and inclusiveness creep to the surface during a website development project. You can use the process to intentionally strengthen relationships or find that it may increase dissension.

Reality Check

We hardly ever have organizations come to us with neatly packaged answers to the questions we’ve proposed. That’s why we’re equipped to meet you wherever you are in your “organizational identity journey”.  Nonprofits exert enormous influence over our society. They create communities, ignite innovation, and influence policy. And when nonprofits do great work, it is incumbent upon them to ensure it is reflected in their brands. To get to the heart of what makes you unique, take an inside-out approach. Getting re-grounded in purpose, people and direction will open up new ways to make your cause more attractive.