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The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving by Jeff Brooks

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Chapter OneHow and Why Commercial-Style Branding Can Torpedo Your Organization

The Color Master held us in the palm of his manicured hand.

He was part of a team of Brand Experts who'd been flown in to hand down my client's new brand—a thing of beauty that would launch the organization into a new era of public visibility, skyrocketing revenue, and cutting-edge design. (That's how an energetic memo from the VP of marketing put it.)

The audience of 50 or so “stakeholders” sat in a darkened meeting room, staring like goldfish at the Color Master's slides.

The stake I held was helping the organization produce its direct-mail and online fundraising. I was at this daylong seminar with experts from the branding agency to get my “marching orders” on how the new brand would play out in fundraising.

The screen showed a solid rectangle of purple.

“Warm Medium Eggplant,” the Color Master said. None of his colors had regular names like “purple,” and most of them had two adjectives. “Warm Medium Eggplant creates a sort of visual embrace.” Long pause. “It makes you feel cozy and included. Like you're six years old and sitting in Grandma's kitchen. It evokes the aroma of baking—something delicious, with a hint of cardamom.”

Everyone in ...

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