Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding – valueable, but not for obvious reasons [Book Review]

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.

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About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy in all cultures and particularly those in the developing world. His experiences working with international nonprofit organizations, extensive international travel, together with his graduate work at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and leadership roles with local nonprofits combine to produce his expertise in these areas.

Currently, he is Director of Philanthropy and Development for The William States Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and is responsible for designing and implementing the strategic development goals of the college and facilitating a culture of philanthropy. Before joining the advancement staff at UNC Charlotte, he worked for Cedarville University and the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and serves as the Vice President of Membership for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Mohler serves AFP at an international level as a longstanding member of the AFP International Development Committee and is on the Publishing Advisory Committee for the AFP Fund Development Series of John Wiley & Sons.

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