June 3, 2019 Wiley Stinnett

Question: We are looking at changing our branding, will there be any impact on fundraising?

Answer: Only two words come to mind when I am asked about a nonprofit considering a brand change . . . LAND MINE! In other words, please tread very carefully.

My experience with brand changes for multiple organizations has been consistent—a drop in income over several years. The only variable has been how steep of a drop and how long does it last.

Strange as it may seem, when organizations consider a brand change, they assume that their existing donor base will dutifully switch over to supporting the new brand. Truthfully, the existing donors are happy supporting what you do and trust you under your old brand. They may not even see a need for a new brand.

I believe that the primary cause for the decreased income is existing donor confusion. While the new brand may seem like a better way to describe who you are and what you do, your existing donors have not been a part of your deliberations and unless you have done research with them, you can’t know the impact your change will have on them.

If you are in a position where you absolutely must change your brand, I would suggest you:

    • Research your existing donor base to gauge their reaction to the new brand and identify a plan to mitigate donor loss. There is a very good reason that major corporations spend millions and billions of dollars on brand transitions.
    • Have a plan for how you are going to acquire new donors. You will lose donors when you rebrand. The only question is, how many of your existing donors will you lose? And the length of the drop in income is dependent on how quickly you can replace those lost donors with new donors under the banner of the new brand. The greater the number of new donors you can add quickly will determine the length and severity of the drop.

Submit your question at www.douglasshaw.com/askwiley.

We look forward to helping you continue your work of being a part of what is right in the world!

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