I’ll preface my review by disclosing I personally believe that the public, private and non-profit sectors serve as a system of checks and balances between one another. As a result I am not in favor of cause marketing because of how it blurs the boundaries between the private and non-profit sector. Cause marketing is attractive to non-profits because it appears to be a mutually beneficial arrangement–non-profits create another revenue stream and for-profits sell more products and make consumers feel good about their purchase. However, since the motivations of the private and non-profit sectors are so disparate (shareholder profits versus and the greater good), the non-profit sector loses more than it gains because it discounts (in my view) its most valuable asset, philanthropy.
Despite my bias, I approached this book with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised to find tremendous value in Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding: Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results (The AFP/Wiley Fund Development Series). It is clear that Daw and Cone are highly experienced in the area of cause marketing. However, the elements I most appreciate about this book had nothing to do with cause marketing. The way the authors addressed the topic is what brought me the most benefit. I appreciate that this book uses a Jim Collins-esque approach of selecting top performing organizations to case study–this brought great credibility to the methods these organizations utilized. The authors don’t just explain key concepts, but apply them in a way that makes the principles of engagement, loyalty, and community real and actionable. These elements help seasoned fundraisers understand how to better communicate a non-profit organization’s case for support by adopting strengths from the private sector–this helps us view communication strategies through the “branding” lens of the private sector.
If you are a business looking to partner with a charitable organization, a non-profit looking to give your organizational mission more richness through a strategic partnership in the private sector, or like myself looking to better articulate the non-profit organizational brand by borrowing from the private sector, I believe this book is a must read.