“We are rebranding.”
Every time I hear those three words, I half-expect a sudden minor chord, the kind you hear in old movies when someone mentions the villain’s name.
I wish that chord were audible. Then I could say—darkly, like a supporting character who's probably doomed—“I have a bad feeling about this.” That would at least bring a film noir drama to the situation, which would have to be better than the dreary and discouraging way rebranding usually goes.
“We are rebranding” should mean something like this: We're going to make systemic changes to the way we connect with the outside world that will help people understand and love our cause. This will improve our fundraising.
Instead, “We are rebranding” at a nonprofit usually means something more like this: We face one to three years of painfully weak fundraising results. A lot of revenue will be lost, and a number of people will be fired.
It's not just me. Almost anyone who serves the nonprofit sector as a fundraising consultant or agency professional will back me up: That's the ugly course rebranding usually follows.
If every time you tuned your car radio to an AM station your right rear wheel fell off, you'd eventually come to the conclusion that the AM radio and the right rear wheel were connected. You might start to perceive your AM radio as a terrible piece of equipment that you should never, ever use.
Many of the best professionals in fundraising long ...