The Center for Association Resources

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Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Branding steps for Not-for-profit organizations

The association market is becoming more competitive, and members more demanding. Not-for profit organizations must work harder to secure the fundamental relationships that fuel their stability and growth. Building distinctive relationships between your organization, its members and potential members, is what branding is about.

We are often asked what makes the difference between an organization with an average brand and one with a distinctive/successful brand? Our answer is always the same…it’s the leaders, volunteers, staff and members who actively and enthusiastically engage in living and experiencing the unique brand promise day in and day out that makes the difference. An organization with an average brand becomes an organization with a great brand by living its values; that is the key ingredient for world-class association performance.

Aligning your organization, operations and culture around your brand values brings the promise to life and creates a deeper, stronger relationship with members, and increases prospective member interest.

A brand stands for the relationship that an organization has with its volunteers and staff, as much as it represents the relationship that it has with its members and prospective members through its product and service offering. For a brand to come to life, the organization must be internally aligned to deliver the brand promise through the organization’s culture, reward systems, key success activities and structure. In other words, the organization must ‘live’ the brand values in its day-to-day interactions. And its leaders must demonstrate their commitment to these values through behavior as well as communications and activities, demonstrating sincerity–not just rhetoric.

The most successful organizations demonstrate their commitment to their brand values in various ways including:

  • Effectively using communications to raise awareness and demonstrate its shared beliefs and vision reinforcing member focus

  • Giving volunteers and staff a deeper understanding of the brand promise and the behaviors and values the promise demands

  • Enabling all volunteers and staff to understand how their own work processes and responsibilities contribute to delivering the brand promise to members and prospective members

  • Changing and improving products and services to be in line with its brand promise and member needs

Areas of Opportunity for Not-for-Profit Organizations

The Center for Association Resources works to identify opportunities to align and enhance the organizations’s brand by studying industry trends, and its members. It is highly desirable that the brand be expressed in ways that optimize the potential of the organization and its members. Our discovery activities will include an evaluation of the existing brand to ascertain its equity and, if necessary, we will explore alternate naming possibilities. This realignment will also help to broaden offerings to the defined targets more effectively and efficiently. Specifically, we determine ways in which organizations can strengthen their relationships by supporting the marketing activities of their members.

Following is a summary of the process that we recommend in order to understand where and how a specific organization is perceived in the marketplace, what that means in terms of opportunities and how to make the most of those opportunities by creating a powerful brand.

We continue to work closely with organizations to leverage our branding process and insight in order to strategically position your organization, its core competencies, values and offerings. In short, our goal is to differentiate your organization and its offerings, and to ensure the delivery of a consistent branded experience. The Center for Association Resources puts into practice these same principles of responsiveness and offers a level of receptiveness to client concerns and market issues unusual to other full-service branding firms. As marketing and communications experts, we recognize the importance of developing messaging from the outside in as well as the inside out, and all of our processes support this strategic positioning.

Methodology Overview

Our brand development and integration methodology consists of three phases:

  • Phase 1, forms the assessment phase of analysis to establish the baseline level of required brand value from internal and external viewpoints and to determine segmentation opportunities and receptivity. With a baseline established, brand strategy development leads to recommendations that support an organization’s specific goals designed to humanize and differentiate the organization, examine its offerings and to focus implementation activities in the expression of the newly aligned brand for each service-centric opportunity within each segment (prospects, members and member’s practices).

  • Phase 2, the implementation phase, typically includes tactics such as integrated communications programs, and member and sponsor development programs, advertising and marketing campaigns, promotions, process and technology recommendations and enhancements, and behavior change programs designed to establish a branded experience across all segments.

  • Phase 3, creates strategies and programs for the maintenance of the brand over time, and measures the effectiveness of the branded experience against the baselines established during brand evaluation. By reapplying the brand valuation benchmarking technique, return on investment (ROI) and the importance of branding throughout the organization, within each offering, and within each defined segment can be evaluated and demonstrated quantitatively.

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Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , ,

Choosing a Good Board

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Every organization needs a good mix of board members to be most effective. The mix should comprise of people who have a solid interest in the work of the association and believe in the direction it is going.

Each board member should be able to solidly hold up an area of importance so that when different issues come up, there will be a place to turn for free and respectable advice.

Some areas that should be covered by any organization are leadership, legal, social, subject knowledge, history of the organization, financial and the public media.  Not every organization will be able to cover all their needs with their boards, and each organization will have specialized needs that will have to be identified.

For instance, if an organization is set up for race car safety, they probably don’t need a board member who is knowledgeable in the area of high tea parties. Then again, if a group needs to bring a lawsuit to bring about the enforcement of a law, it would be really nice to have a lawyer or two on the board.  Even if they don’t do the work themselves due to busy schedule or specialization, they can advise whom to see and how to set up the case for clarity and focus.

A socially savvy board member knows people who know people and they can tell more people about the group and it’s thrust.  They know best how to set up fundraisers and how to get people of distinction as honored speakers.  These board members are the heart of the group and keep the group alive.

A member of the media or a media member’s spouse or close relative can help any group immensely.  Just keeping the organization’s name in front of the media with the help of a good and honest and accurate media person is key.  Aim to get one of these people on your board until you get one.  They are that important!

One of the best resources an association can have is a person who has a knowledge of what the association has done in previous years.  This person will have an understanding of what works well, what has been done and over done and underdone. This person has an innate sense of the group and is part of the brain…an excellent resource for the group because many things are not written down, or information is lost. A good human memory bank is priceless.

The other must have association resource is one or more people who know the subject matter well. If your group’s reason to exist is to protect orphaned children, you must have someone who knows children well and orphaned children especially well.  If your group covers the protection of a particular beetle, you must have on hand a natural scientist of some kind to help the organization attain believability.

A board member with accounting background can help in many ways, including help with taxes, training employees, and banking and if you are fortunate enough you will have another to help with investing.

Last, but not least, a leader, a board member who will stay with the group, lead the others and is probably the founder of the group, so you don’t have to worry too much about choosing, but if you do, be sure and find someone who has previous experience.

A few final tips…

  • Be sure that all your board members will be able to attend most if not all meetings, and are interested enough to read the minutes of missed meetings.
  • Big name board members are nice on paper but rarely have time to help in real time.
  • And make sure potential board members get along with others.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Leadership, Non-Profit, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , , , , , ,

Creating awareness through SEO

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Search engine optimization or SEO is vital to any nonprofit organization trying to create awareness of their cause. However, many nonprofits feel intimidated when faced with search engine optimization.  They may think it is extremely complex, or that it requires a large budget.  However, the truth is, SEO does not require an expert.  The only things necessary for successful SEO is time, patience and the desire to learn.

There are many benefits to SEO.  SEO increases the traffic to websites and rank in search engines such as Google.  It also increases the nonprofits “visibility”.  Although an expert can be utilized for SEO, the nonprofit can accomplish successful SEO on its own, as well.  There are no short cuts to SEO, it takes time.  However, one will see success soon enough by following these useful tips.

First of all, successful search engine optimization requires solid, clear goals.  One should organize their website by answering all of these questions.  Is information, such as events and new products or services, up to date?  Can people make donations online?  What can visitors do on the website?  Are forms asking the right questions?

Next, the nonprofit should determine who they want its audience to be.  An ideal audience includes potential donors, press, members of the organization and present, as well as, past beneficiaries seeking support.

Keywords are crucial to any SEO strategy.  When launching an SEO campaign, one should make a list of relevant keywords used repetitively on the site.  One should also pay close attention to “meta-tags”.  A meta-tag or “invisible text”  is not displayed on the pages of the site, rather it is in the HTML code which SEO robots analyze.  The elements of meta-tags specify page descriptions, keywords and images.

Content is crucial.  Content should not only be clear and compelling, but it should also be unique, engrossing and geared towards the audience.  Headlines should be descriptive and not contain any ID numbers.  The body’s content should be formatted in HTML context, rather than graphical, so that the robot can read it.  Using a clickable anchor text helps to boost the site’s ranking.  A breadcrumb trail offers users the ability to view various pages on the site.  This is often found horizontally across the top of the homepage below the headline.  Headline tags offer this option, as well.  There should be no more than 450 to 600 words on each page, and keywords should be in bold or italics so that users can identify them.  Internal linking or cross linking is perfect to use for navigating within the site.  In-bound links are useful too in bringing traffic to one’s site.

A site map should be created and posted on the nonprofit’s website, as well.  This allows robots and users to quickly and easily navigate within the site. A site map is terrific in helping with the usability and navigation of the website.  When creating a URL, one should be sure to use keywords and file names to raise SEO.  Making use of such things as documents, spreadsheets, pictures, videos and presentations also help an immense deal.

Finally, by signing up with Google’s Webmaster Central and Google Analytics, one can see how well their site and inbound links are doing, and how much traffic is going to the site.  By checking this on a regular basis, one can adjust their strategy as needed and can create a highly successful website for their nonprofit organization.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, , , , , ,

December 2017
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