Guest blog by Addison Waters, Galaxy Digital
Volunteers come to your nonprofit from all different backgrounds. Perhaps they have a personal connection to your cause, are volunteering with their school or organization, or want to get more involved in the community.
But all volunteers have one thing in common: they are crucial to your nonprofit’s success. Not only do they help you move your mission forward, but they also spread the word about your nonprofit.
However, recruiting and retaining volunteers is a challenge for any nonprofit. So how can you keep your volunteers invested in your program? It’s simple: build a brand for your volunteer program.
Whether you’re looking to recruit future volunteer leaders or simply want to inspire your current volunteers, creating a brand for your program can take your volunteer experience to the next level. But where do you even begin? Here are our three steps to building an effective brand for your volunteer program:
- Step 1: Understand your core purpose.
- Step 2: Develop your program’s brand image.
- Step 3: Share your brand with the world!
If you’re just figuring out how to start your volunteer program or you’ve been running your program for years, you can benefit from learning how to market your program’s brand more effectively. Let’s take a closer look at the difference a strong brand can make and how you can implement your own!
Why should you have a brand?
At this point, you might be wondering why your volunteer program should have a brand, especially if you have already created a strong brand for your nonprofit. Even if you already have an overall brand, spending some time designing a brand for your volunteer program can make the experience far more enjoyable for your generous volunteers.
Here are some of the main benefits of creating a brand for your volunteer program:
- Build trust: A solid brand is a great way to show potential volunteers that your program is a legitimate operation. Volunteers want to know that they’re investing their time in a worthwhile and trustworthy organization, and there’s no better way to show off your professionalism than with a sharp brand tailored to your program.
- Inspire your volunteers: Your brand messaging is a great way to inspire your volunteers to continue all of the hard work they do for your nonprofit. With a dedicated volunteer brand, you can craft messaging that specifically emphasizes all of the great benefits of volunteering and how your supporters can make a real difference by donating their time!
- Be more memorable: A brand is an effective way to ensure your program is memorable and recognizable. Consider coming up with a slogan or logo for your volunteer program to connect with prospective volunteers. They’ll be more likely to remember your program when they have a bit of extra time in their schedules! And who knows? Your great volunteer brand may inspire the wider community to get involved and forward the social good.
Overall, a strong volunteer brand will improve your marketing abilities and will make it easier for you to talk about your program with others. Additionally, your volunteers will also feel like they are really part of a community working towards the same mission!
Step 1: Understand your volunteer program’s core purpose.
Now that you have a better understanding of how a brand can transform your volunteer program, you’re ready to get started building your own brand!
The first step to building your brand is to understand your volunteer program’s core purpose. Identifying your core purpose right from the beginning will ensure that your brand strategy remains organized and clear. The last thing you want is to finally launch your brand, only to realize your messaging is confusing!
Set aside some time to really dig into your volunteer program’s reason for existing. As you’re brainstorming, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the overall mission of my volunteer program?
- How does my volunteer program fit into my nonprofit overall?
- What will volunteers gain from the experience?
- How will volunteers make an impact?
- Why would volunteers want to join my program?
- What learning or growth opportunities can my volunteer program inspire?
According to Get Connected by Galaxy Digital’s guide to volunteer management, it’ll be far easier for you to conduct the recruitment and training process if you have a clear idea of what your volunteer program is and how volunteers will make an impact. And you can always return to your core purpose at any time to help you make decisions throughout the brand creation process!
Step 2: Develop your volunteer program’s brand image.
With your core purpose ready to go, you can start developing your volunteer program’s brand image. So what goes into creating a trustworthy and effective brand image? According to DNL Omnimedia’s guide to nonprofit branding, you should consider these brand elements:
- Tone: Although you might think of visuals first when it comes to brand, the tone you use to discuss your volunteer program and mission is equally as (if not more) important. Connect your tone to your nonprofit’s work. For example, if your volunteers will work with children, it might be best to use a very friendly tone. However, if your volunteers will be assisting with scientific research, a more serious tone might be in order.
- Color scheme: Your color scheme provides a great opportunity for you to distinguish your volunteer program’s brand from your nonprofit’s brand. Consider using similar colors to your nonprofit’s overall brand, but adding a couple of different accent colors. This way, prospective volunteers will see the relationship between your nonprofit and the volunteer program, but will still see their fellow volunteers as members of a distinct community.
- Typography: Your typography consists of fonts you will use for your volunteer program’s brand. For a more cohesive look, you can use the same typography as your nonprofit’s brand. This will likely look the most visually appealing on your website and other marketing materials.
- Images: Lastly, set some standards for the types of images that you plan to use. Will you use actual photos of your volunteers? Or will you rely on graphics? Select the option that you think will best resonate with your prospective volunteers and that still looks consistent with your overall nonprofit image.
Because your volunteer program’s brand will fall under the umbrella of your overall nonprofit brand, you should strive to make this brand distinct, but not too different from your nonprofit’s brand. After all, prospective volunteers likely found your program because they’re interested in your nonprofit’s cause. These two brands should be unique, but still visually and textually related.
Step 3: Share your brand with the world!
Now that you have your core message, tone, and visual elements planned, you’re ready to share your brand with the world! Launching a new brand is a great volunteer recruitment strategy because you’ll automatically generate interest amongst your supporters. Plus, your current volunteers will appreciate your updated look and efforts to create a stronger volunteer community.
However, getting your brand out there can have its own challenges. Here are our top tips you can use to successfully share your new brand with your community:
- Keep your branding consistent: You spent all that time creating guidelines for your brand for a reason. That’s because brand inconsistency can be really harmful to building a strong following and community, especially in online spaces. Once you announce your brand, stick to the guidelines that you set. This way, you can avoid any extra confusion about what the brand represents.
- Use a multi-channel marketing approach: Bringing your new brand to the world means sharing it on all the platforms you use, such as email, social media, direct mail, and more! Sharing your new brand across multiple channels ensures that more people will see and remember it.
- Encourage current volunteers to share: If you already have an active volunteer community, encourage your current volunteers to share your new brand on their social media pages and among friends and families. The more people that can spread the word, the better! Plus, individuals with a personal connection to one of your volunteers are more likely to care about the changes.
You’ve already put in a ton of valuable work into building your new brand, so be sure you have a clear marketing plan to spread the word! Don’t be afraid to call a lot of attention to your new brand. Consistent reminders about your new brand and volunteer opportunities will continue to remind prospective volunteers why they should sign up.
There you have it — a complete step-by-step guide on how to build your very own brand for your volunteer program! With a distinct brand for your volunteer program, you can successfully grow your community and help your volunteers feel like an integral part of your organization.
Addison Waters is a Content Writer at Galaxy Digital, the best volunteer management software for managing, tracking, and engaging volunteerism. Addison holds a Master of Creative Writing from Durham University. Say hi on LinkedIn!
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