Sometimes fundraising people get fed up with working for nonprofits all the time and think, I'll just be a nonprofit consultant! How hard can it be?
It's actually really hard.
Don't get me wrong, fundraising prepares you in many ways to become a nonprofit consultant, but there are a few key things that you won't learn in a fundraising office.
One of them is branding.
What is branding?
It's the foundation of your marketing. Branding creates a symbol of quality that you are known for. And it helps differentiate you in the marketplace.
For instance, the NIKE symbol is a swoosh line. That's their brand, it's strong, they put it on everything, it's unmistakable.
And since there's a lot of nonprofit consultants, you'd better get your branding right!
What are some elements of branding?
Those are the graphical elements.
But brand can also be about mood and attributes like your writing, blog posts, customer service, teaching style and more.
Here's an example of my current logo and font and colors.
I'm currently working with a branding company, Relevant studios, to make my image even more professional yet keep the fun and amusing pieces too.
Why does this brand work for me?
Because it represents who I am. When I asked my clients and customers and readers what they liked about me, they said:
“You are such an encourager! You play a big role in keeping us all motivated.”
“I like the informality, the energy!
I'm an immigrant to technology, and very clearly you have that.”
“You're real. You understand. One person shop. Say it how it is, enthusiastic, not the crumbly words that other people use”
“You make the fundraising information easy to understand. Whereas AFP is not easy to understand at all. It's not rocket science! “
You are bubbly and energetic (a lot of fundraisers don't love their work)
“I like the 30 second reads that come in the middle of the day, I'd read it, laugh and get encouraged”
“You are entertaining. Fundraising can be very dry. I'll go to those conferences but god they're boring.”
I realized that there was a theme running through what everyone said about me. They said I was easy to understand, funny, real, encouraging, and enthusiastic.
I like to think those attributes are part of who I am as a teacher and a writer, not just as a consulting brand. But it took years to build up this brand and figure out who I was and how people perceived me.
It doesn't have to take you as long as it took me.
What can you do right now to start building your consulting brand?
First, do some market research. If you Google "nonprofit consultant" or "fundraising coach" what comes up?
See what other people are doing.
To start thinking about your own brand, consider the style tile.
A style tile can help you look at the branding you're currently using, and help you start to look at other people's branding and how to differentiate yourself from them in a visual way.
Here's a style tile from Cape May County Zoo.
You can see they've got standardized fonts for the body text in their materials, for the headline, two standardized logos, patterns, approved colors and even what color their text links will be.
Look at what other people are doing and think, okay, how can I make my style different from theirs?
Is there an area I want to specialize? What is it?
Once you get clear on that, you can start to build your consulting brand.
Even as you start to build it, know that it will evolve over time. You may even do a rename down the line.
What works for me may not work for you. But it feels true to who I am, and that's the important part.
One of the things I've learned is that it's a strength to be small. You can show people your face, share pieces of your life, and show them that you're as human as they are. And they appreciate that you treat them like human beings instead of like ATMs. Just like with nonprofit fundraising, small is beautiful.
I'd love to see some small nonprofit consultants chime in with what has worked for them, and how they grew their brand! :)
About the author:
Mazarine Treyz is the founder of Wild Woman Fundraising. She coaches nonprofits to achieve their fundraising goals. Treyz has written The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising, The Wild Woman's Guide to Social Media and Get the Job! Your Fundraising Career Empowerment Guide. Her books have received 5 star reviews by Nonprofit.About.com. She has taught thousands of people how to fundraise via webinars, workshops and more. Most recently she's spoken for Meals on Wheels National, Association of Fundraising Professionals National, GuideStar.org, VolunteerMatch.org, Blackbaud, and many others. Contact Mazarine and tell her what you're working on! Follow Mazarine Treyz on Twitter @wildwomanfund