Why is brand identity so important to donor relations teams?

Heurista Strategic Planning Session

A key objective of our work is to have donors receive multiple communications from us throughout the year. It is important to have those communications coordinate well with any other interaction the donor may have with an organization. The more interconnected the touches a donor receives, the better the donor understands them as a set and perceives the information or experience presented as having come from your institution specifically. 

Packaging information or the elements of an experience in a familiar “wrap” is often the most efficient and practical means for the donor relations team to brand the messages they prepare. This wrap can be as simple as a consistent look to outgoing emails, a two-pocket folder or a regular template for your donor reports. You should always be consistent in the use of logos, fonts and colors specified as institutional standards. As your practice evolves, establish guidelines for writing style, types of photography and page layout. If needed, get help from an in-house designer or freelance resource to help you develop a style that is flexible enough to work in all circumstances. Take the time to match the style to the character of your organization.  Never allow the application of the brand to overshadow the messages you're conveying. Be sure that your deliverable–be it an email, an invitation or a plaque–is easily discernible from similar communication from the organization across town.

I do not recommend a distinct logo or set of graphic standards for your foundation or development department. Instead, I suggest that you use the standing design components in a consistent and overt way that demonstrates to the donor that your communications represent the sentiments of the entire organization.

And before you send anything out (or hang it on the wall), step back and ask yourself, in your role as the representative of the donor’s point-of-view, “can I tell who is saying this to or about me?”