Should Your Nonprofit Rename? Do This First.

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We were recently approached by a nonprofit considering a rename. They’ve served their community for several decades and the organization has significantly expanded its services and geographic reach. They don’t feel their current name is representative of their mission today.

Like so many organizations, this nonprofit is also looking to diversify funding streams. In their case, they want to reposition so they’re less reliant on government funding. They’d also like to reach more individual donors. They aren’t sure whether or not changing their nonprofit’s name and updating their messaging will help them reach these objectives.

Often, when a nonprofit organization is questioning whether or not to rename, we recommend a brand perception study to understand external perspectives and align internal stakeholders.

Understand external perspectives

Brand perception studies typically involve a combination of research, surveys, focus groups and interviews designed to gather important insights from outside audiences about what a rename could mean for your nonprofit.

The brand perception study aims to answer questions like:

  • Do your name, logo, messaging and other brand elements carry a lot of recognition?
  • Will changing your nonprofit’s identity put you at risk of alienating or leaving behind some of your donors or supporters?
  • Do people confuse your nonprofit with another?
  • Is there a gap between what people understand about your organization and what you actually do?

The outcomes of this brand perception study could drive your nonprofit toward or away from renaming by providing answers to these mission critical questions.

Align internal stakeholders

While a brand perception study will give you a sense of outside perspectives related to your nonprofit’s name and brand, the results can also serve as a powerful internal consensus-building tool. A number of internal audiences play a role in the rebranding process (or at least they should). And, as the saying goes, “you can’t always read the label from inside the jar.”

While certain members of the board might feel one way (“we need to rebrand, so we can reach more potential donors”), staff may feel completely different (“our clients know us and what we do, and this could create major confusion”). When people are at odds about whether or not renaming your nonprofit is the right thing to do, you need an objective, global view of your brand. The outcomes of a brand perception study will provide qualitative and quantitative information to validate whichever direction your nonprofit organization decides to pursue, helping those who didn’t initially agree with the decision to see why it was made.

When people are at odds about whether or not renaming your nonprofit is the right thing to do, you need an objective, global view of your brand. Click To Tweet

Don’t know if you should rename your nonprofit organization? Start with a brand perception study.

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