Branding Non-Profit Organisations

by Kim Faulkner 18 August 2015

What do these organisations below have in common?

The obvious answer is that these organisations are "non-profit organisations", that is to say, they are not commercial entities.

However, I wonder if the descriptor “non-profit” is a misnomer, because whilst they are not driven by a profit motive, these organisations do need to make a profit in order to invest in their cause. A better term would, I think, be “cause-related organisation” or “cause-related brands”.

These brands exist to champion a cause or to right a wrong in the world; and too often as a “non-profit organisation” there is a sense that they should subsist on volunteerism and charity. This cannot be the case because their financial sustainability depends on them being able to make a profit, which can then be reinvested in expanding the cause.

A primary goal of a cause-related brand is not to fund-raise, or gather as many volunteers to the cause, but to have a MULTIPLIER EFFECT in influencing positive change by being able to galvanise as many people and communities as possible to contribute meaningfully to the cause.

For this to happen, it needs to have a clear point-of-view of what needs to be changed, and more importantly, how the change needs to take place -- The cause-related brand has to change mind sets in order to persuade people that they should participate and evangelise the cause.

This is not charity or something you do with what you have in excess, but motivating the ‘best and brightest” to step up, and step out to make a difference. To do this, they need to have REAL brands – not just logos or pieces of communications – but brands that are as persuasive and powerful as the best commercial brands.

Only then, will they be able to generate a profit to be financially sustainable to continue to fight the good fight.

It is for this reason that we have recently formed the ACTIVISTE FOUNDATION to influence positive change for the brands that need it most - cause-related brands are branded activists who desire to make an impact in their chosen fields.


Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.