A recent poll by Grey Matter of nonprofit brand awareness, shows that awareness is extremely low among American adults. The survey asked a representative sample of American adults to name the first nonprofit they could think of excluding a local place of worship.
Shockingly Low Awareness
The study concluded that first mention brand awareness for any individual nonprofit is essentially nonexistent. Of those who could actually name a nonprofit, they could only name organizations that have been successful in media campaigns or are present in virtually any community. The American Red Cross is the first brand that comes to mind for 20% of Americans, followed by The Salvation Army at 11%. Eight other brands were named by 2% to 4% of participants in the study. These include: United Way, Goodwill, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, ASPCA, American Cancer Society, YMCA, and Susan G. Komen. No other individual organization received even 5% of recognition, but many organizations were named by just one or two people out of the 1,000 respondents. The top 10 first named nonprofits account for over 50% of the total named by participants. Shockingly, 15% of the respondents could not name a nonprofit at all and two percent named something that is not actually a nonprofit (i.e. United Nations).
It is both ridiculous and frustrating that ten large nonprofits accounted for half of the responses. Other findings showed that 51% named a nonprofit with over a billion dollars in revenue and even those who donate to nonprofit causes were only aware of a handful of large nonprofits. This study goes to show that small and medium nonprofits both have an extraordinary hurdle to overcome. While these smaller nonprofits are still gathering large amounts of revenue and making an enormous impact, they might struggle to achieve publicity and successful marketing campaigns and therefore not receive support from the general public. When people are looking to make donations, many choose a name that they have heard elsewhere through large events, marketing campaigns, or those that regularly make the news during things such as disasters.
It is clear from this study that Americans are not seeking out information about where to volunteer and donate, they are simply catching what is thrown to them. Thus, it is extremely important for a nonprofit to examine the marketplace, define an audience, and then focus specifically on that one group. Many nonprofits do not have a budget to achieve large marketing plans or mass media appearances. But the stories of smaller nonprofits are just as important. Story telling is central to all nonprofit efforts. Whether it be through blogs, social media, press releases, or just authentic conversations with leaders – awareness changes minds and hearts.
When in doubt – remember this quote from brand strategist Scott Talgo,
“A brand that captures your mind gains behavior.
A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.”