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Be a Brand or Be a Mission

August 15, 2010

The recent article in the Wall Street Journal on small charities being forced by bigger ones to change their names, colors and other portions of their branding really disturbed me. So now we, compassionate servants of social missions, are colorists?

I do understand the need to have a strong identity, but if you are constantly suing the other charities and keeping them from their mission, something’s horribly wrong.

Let’s not forget that we are social missions and well-run, well-financed organizations. If you really think your organization is losing money and/or manpower, go back to the drawing board and find a brand that can’t be duplicated. Consider a merger even, especially if both groups are fighting for the same cause.

For too long, charities and other nonprofit social mission entities have been caught up with being like for-profit, publicly-traded corporations.  Unlike shareholders that win if you maximize profit, you can lose your donors and stakeholders if they feel their money is being wasted or spent on overhead at the expense of the social mission.

Keeping that in mind, either re-write your mission such that it supports these type of brand defending activities or get back to funneling your money to the cause at hand.

What do you think? Is it ok to protect  your slogans, logos or other branding activities at the expense of yours (and other similar groups’ ) core mission?

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