If you want to build a brand for your non-profit, you need to offend people.

You can’t please everyone. You can’t even please most people. And that’s OK. In fact, we’re here to help you realize that pleasing everyone is exactly what you don’t want to do.

If you’re building a brand for your non-profit, then this is a mantra you should start telling yourself every day. Because, when it comes to non-profit branding, you’re going to need to offend some people if you’re going to make an impact.

Go ahead. Write down this mantra on a post-it note and stick it to your mirror right now.

Done? Good. Now, let’s dive deeper into why create a strong brand might make you (and others) uneasy, and why you should push past that feeling.

Do More Than Just “Get the Word Out”

Whether you’re writing blog posts, social media posts, or web copy for a brand-new website relaunch, you’re going to write messaging. And whether you’re a new non-profit or an established one, you’re going to want to “get the word out” about your organization, including what you do, what your mission is, and who you help.

But…don’t stop there.

Sure, people — potential donors, potential volunteers, and other stakeholders — need to know what you do and what you plan to accomplish. But what non-profit marketing is really about is encouraging, empowering, and enabling people to ACT. You want someone to click that donation button. You want someone to fill out your form to become a volunteer. You want people to march behind you as you attempt to change the world.

Simply listing your service offerings won’t help you do that.

You need to change your audience’s worldview and motivate them to change the world with you. But you’re not going to do that with a weak brand and non-offensive, people-pleasing messaging. Click To Tweet

Activists Who Have Stood Up and Offended Like a Boss

Not sure what exactly we’re getting at? Consider a few examples that made the news:

Greta ThunbergGreta Thunberg is a Swedish teen activist with autism who is leading the charge against climate change. After a one-person protest on the steps of the Swedish parliament, she came up with the school strike movement. More than a million students have joined in to protest the inaction against climate change. At the UN climate change summit last year, she called out our leaders, saying they’re behaving like children. Has she pissed off governments? Sure. Is it worth it? Yep.

Malala YousafzaiMalala is a strong female activist who speaks out about the need for girls to have proper access to education. She published an anonymous diary about her life in Pakistan when she was 11. In retaliation for her activism, she was shot in the head…and survived. In 2014, she was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Autumn PeltierThis fourteen-year-old Indigeneous Manitoulin Island activist is known as the water warrior. She believes that all children and Indigenous Canadian peoples should have access to clean water.

These three young activists have voiced passionate pleas for change — pleas that some would prefer to silence. But to change the world, you need raw, bold-faced honesty and authenticity.

These activists weren’t afraid to step on some toes.
Piss people off.

And you shouldn’t be afraid, either.
Speak your truth. So you can inspire. Motivate. Excite.
When you offend, it means you’re saying something important.

All non-profits have a story to tell. How they tell that story is what differentiates them.

Strong messaging might offend and make some people uncomfortable, but it’s necessary if you’re going to change the world. Click To Tweet

What Do You Stand For?

So, when branding your non-profit, consider what you stand for — and don’t stand down! Remember, you can’t please everyone, so strike a chord with your target audience (and forget the rest). For every detractor you might make, you’ll create a long-term advocate for your cause.

If you’re ready to create motivational messaging that offends as part of your non-profit branding, book a 30-minute strategy call.

About the Author

Kerstin Heuer is a nonprofit marketing consultant and founder of Non-Profit Today. Since 2008 she has used the trifecta of branding, marketing, and design to help nonprofits communicate the heart of their organization, connect with their audiences, and achieve their missions. With over 25 years of industry experience and lessons learned from work on 500+ nonprofit projects, Kerstin is skilled in collaborating with NPOs to make sure they have a clear message and the traction they need to spread it. Connect with her on Linkedin or email her at: kerstin@nonprofit.today.

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