Nonprofit Branding: Get Noticed, Get Funded
One of the most common questions I receive from nonprofit executives and development officers is how to apply for grants from foundations and corporations who don’t accept unsolicited proposals. Unfortunately, the answer is, you can’t. Some funders, especially small-staffed foundations, don’t have open grant rounds simply because they can’t handle the volume of proposals. They don’t want you to spend time writing a proposal that they don’t have the time to read.
How then, do these funders identify the nonprofits that they invite to apply? One way is by talking to their peers. The funding community is small and well-connected, especially in the Greater Washington, DC region. You can bet that when a nonprofit is rocking their mission, philanthropy professionals will spread the word!
My best advice to those of you who want to be invited to apply to closed grant rounds is to get noticed. If you’re not shouting your accomplishments from the rooftops, racking up social media followers, and authentically connecting supporters to your organization’s challenges, opportunities, and the issues you care about, you’re getting lost in the crowd of thousands of other nonprofits doing “good work.”
As nonprofit professionals, we know that communications, branding, and marketing are important. We know that visually appealing information garners the most attention, followers, and clicks. We know that professional-looking communications and visuals mirror well-run, dynamic organizations worthy of philanthropic investment. So, why do we put communications and branding on the back burner? Why do we accept outdated marketing materials, lackluster PowerPoint presentations, and bland social media posts? Well, I say, no more!
Use these tools to easily design beautiful brochures, social media images, infographics, emails, newsletters, videos, and more.
Never give a boring presentation again with these tools.
You don’t have to worry about copyright infringement when you use these free online image banks.
Even when your graphics are beautiful, boring typography can make them seem uninspired.
As you think about how to elevate your organization’s profile in the community, you may want to have a brainstorming session with your team to generate ideas and set goals for yourself and your organization. For example, do you want to seek out opportunities to serve as a speaker or panelist showcasing the expertise you and your staff have about a particular cause or issue area? Are there opportunities for you to write blog posts, LinkedIn articles, and/or media op-eds highlighting your work or speaking out on a relevant topic?
Whatever you decide, remember that being visible and creating buzz about your work and mission is one of the only ways to secure that highly sought-after invitation to submit a solicited proposal.
Katy Moore is a Senior Director at Orr Group, a full-service strategic fundraising firm. With nearly 20 years of experience in the field of philanthropy at the local, regional, and national levels, Katy has a deep knowledge and insider’s view of institutional and corporate philanthropy. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on twitter at @CapitalGrits and @Orr_Group.