Rethinking Nonprofit Branding – with Vickie Sullivan



On June 13, 2017, Vickie Sullivan published a blog post called “When Old Clients Hate New Ideas.” Although she’s addressing a for-profit audience, her message was so pertinent for nonprofit fundraisers, I called her up right away, breathlessly of course, to say, “Vickie!!! This whole thing applies to fundraising!!! Do a podcast with me!” Fortunately, Vickie and I have known and worked together for the past 15 years so she didn’t hang up on me, and it didn’t take much arm-twisting to convince her.

Vickie is a branding expert for consultants, professional speakers, and major corporations. She’s been doing this work for about 30 years, with terrific results.

Vickie’s says we may risk confusing, alienating and even losing some stakeholders when we change direction, add new products or programs, or revise the fundraising strategy. But that might so bad! She continues, “If you can’t apply your new direction to their situation effortlessly, you’ll look unsure.” It’s just as risky for nonprofits, but it might be even riskier NOT to. You might have trained your funders in counter-productive techniques like the tin-cup mentality, desperation, and “miraculous fundraising” (i.e., the Lord will provide). Cut it out. The underlying, unintentional message might make you look weak, unsure of yourself, or worse. Funders want to invest in – and stick with – the winners.

Vickie Sullivan isn’t well known in the nonprofit sector – yet. We hope this podcast changes that situation for the better. Get to know her better at www.vickiesullivan.com.