Brand Building in Tough Times

To cite an old saying that still rings true, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It may be hard to muster up the energy to move beyond this state of inertia induced by economic meltdown, but Jewish organizations need more than ever to push their brand’s value to keep supporters believing in them. Here are a few brand building tips targeted to these hard times and to helping you better link your brand to your constituents needs.

  1. Take a look at your portfolio of services/programs and give them away to your supporters who need help. Every organization has in-house and volunteer expertise – job retraining, resume writing, financial planning, budgeting, marketing and sales skills – that can easily be offered to those in your community who are out of work and struggling to stay afloat. Whether you create a day of workshops, an online set of tools, or one-on-one telephone consults, your efforts will: a) be valued by those who need them; and b) make your organizational brand even stronger with everyone in your community.
  2. Take a page from eBay and Craig’s List, twist it a little and sponsor a local, Jewish community-wide goods and services swap/giveaway/sale. Everyone has stuff they can contribute and by using the web, everyone who needs some free stuff but is too embarrassed to go public with their needs in their own community, can discreetly get it. Imagine a federation/JCC /synagogue sponsored online tag sale promoted to the community as a way to help our family help itself…..what a service and what a good message about its important organizations.
  3. Write (yes on real stationery with a real pen) to your most valued donors thanking them for their support in these most challenging times. Just the act of doing  personalized outreach will set you and your organization apart and make your brand the one they will remain loyal to and promote to others for a long time to come.
  4. Sponsor a time bank to match volunteers with those who are under stress and need a) babysitting help so they can seek employment or job retraining; b) drop in visits for a lonely elderly person; c) tutoring for a child whose parents are home less and working longer hours to keep food on the table. Those with time on their hands can put some in the bank and those who need support can discreetly ask for it.

The idea in these four examples is to make your organizational brand relevant to the needs of your community and the times we all live in. Those needs are greater and far different than just a year ago when most Jewish families only needed to know when to show up for Super Sunday or the Israel Day parade not how to access help.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.