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.

About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler is Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). In this role, he oversees the KCTCS Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and the KCTCS Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs. With 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses, KCTCS is the Commonwealth’s largest postsecondary institution. He also serves as executive director of the KCTCS Foundation, Inc.

Mohler most recently served as assistant vice president for development at Eastern Kentucky University. His background also includes key advancement roles at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The University of Texas at Austin.

He earned a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Cedarville University. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and has earned the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential. He currently serves on the ACFRE Board.

Mohler was named to Charlotte Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" in 2013 and the AFP Bluegrass Chapter honored him with their Exemplary Service Award in 2015.

%d bloggers like this: