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What to expect when you’re expecting to rebrand your nonprofit

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Your nonprofit’s brand is an important tool for communicating your mission to supporters and earning their trust. Effective branding also gives potential donors an accurate and compelling picture of your organization that encourages their vital support. But what if you decide to rebrand your nonprofit?

Rebranding can be used to improve public perception of a nonprofit’s organization, but it’s a major decision and significant project to undertake. If you think it may be time to update your nonprofit’s branding, it’s helpful to know what to expect from the process.

Before you commit to a complete overhaul of your nonprofit’s branding, make sure you understand what a rebrand entails:

  1. Your audience’s perception of your nonprofit will change.
  2. The scope of your nonprofit’s rebrand will depend on your goals.
  3. You’ll need to dedicate time and resources to the rebrand process.

We’ll go over important factors to consider when you rebrand your nonprofit throughout this blog. To get the most out of rebranding, it’s best to begin by completing research on the process. 

1. Your audience’s perception of your nonprofit will change.

Before beginning a full rebrand, it’s worth evaluating why your nonprofit is considering this in the first place. For example, is there an issue with or aspect of your current branding that needs to be addressed to better connect with the hearts and minds of your audience? Or maybe you’ve heard comments from a board member or supporter that elements of your brand no longer align with your current mission and values.

While this type of feedback is always worth exploring, it’s especially important to ground your nonprofit’s rebranding decisions in audience research to ensure any changes you make to your current brand will produce the impacts you desire. As such, part of the research process should include conducting a survey to understand how connected your audience feels to your nonprofit’s brand right now. Stakeholder and audience research is vital to determining if rebranding efforts are warranted and the course they should take if so. A survey is a good place to start, but you might also consider launching a focus group of constituents (representing different members of your community) to unpack the findings and gather feedback on how rebranding will influence your audience’s perception of your nonprofit. 

Next, consider what audience learnings you can surface using your nonprofit’s marketing analytics, such as email engagement metrics, website traffic measures, and social media performance. Pay attention to which types of content your supporters engage with the least to find opportunities for improvement. Focus your efforts on changing aspects of your brand that your supporters find less appealing.

Additionally, chatting with peer organizations that have rebranded can also provide useful insights, from why they decided to rebrand to how they approached the effort and the levels of success they’ve seen as a result.

Be prepared: the research phase may take weeks or even months to complete, but it’s important groundwork to lay for an effective nonprofit rebranding effort. Here’s why: being clear about the problem and/or opportunity your rebranding will address will help dictate what resulting brand updates are required for success.

2. The scope of your nonprofit’s rebrand depends on your goals.

Gathering audience insights is the springboard for determining what level of changes to your branding are necessary to achieve your goals. For example, your audience research may indicate that your brand feels a bit outdated, which could be solved by simply refreshing a few key elements of your brand to feel more modern.

In fact, sometimes a complete overhaul of your nonprofit brand isn’t necessary to achieve your desired goals. Many nonprofit organizations see results just by adjusting or refreshing one or two visual components across all digital platforms to tighten up their current brand strategy. This is usually completed after A/B testing confirms that a new component will improve the desired audience perception of the brand. 

Small improvements could include changes to your organization’s:

Remember that even small changes will need to be implemented across all of your communications, from your website and social media campaign appeals to your nonprofit’s branded collateral and volunteer thank you letters. Making even small-scale updates to your nonprofit’s brand is no small feat, so it’s important to consider the resources you need to achieve your rebranding goals.

3. You’ll need to dedicate resources to the rebrand process.

If you’ve determined that a more extensive rebrand process is needed to reach your audience-driven brand goals, it’s crucial to take stock of what resources you have at your disposal to implement it. Ask yourself: Do you have the budget and bandwidth to invest into this project? If you don’t but dive in anyway, you may be inadvertently setting yourself up for more brand confusion, not the cohesive picture of your nonprofit that you’re aiming for. 

Whether embarking on a smaller brand refresh or a full-scale rebranding effort, seek to understand the resources required, including:

  • Budget. As a first step, consult your nonprofit’s budget and determine how much you can afford to invest in rebranding. Full-scale, extensive rebranding projects can carry expensive price tags. However, you can also seek to find ways to cut down on costs, like recruiting volunteers to support your effort or forgoing the creation of a costly new video.
  • Time. Consider creating a detailed timeline for rebranding. It may likely take longer than expected, so it pays to build in extra time for any unanticipated bumps in the road. If you already have limited time, you may prefer to focus on making smaller branding adjustments.
  • Library of existing content. Take a look at the branded collateral you already use. If you have a large library of content with your current branding, it’s helpful to understand if you will be able to easily adapt it to the new brand.
  • Professional support. To lessen the burden and time commitment of your staff, you could consider partnering with a nonprofit design firm that fits the scope of your rebrand. Or, if you have any professional graphic designers on your board or within your base of supporters, you can seek out pro bono services on the rebrand as an in-kind donation.

Since rebranding can be a time-extensive and expensive process, it’s always worthwhile to make sure you have adequate resources available before you begin. 

Prepared to press go on rebranding your nonprofit? 

Once you’ve researched your audience, determined your goals, and prepared to kick off the rebrand process, start building a comprehensive roll-out plan to guide your efforts. Here are a few elements to consider to help you get started:

  • Combine your rebrand with an updated marketing strategy for best results. 
  • Create a specific strategy for how you’ll roll out the rebrand across marketing materials, including how you’ll present it to supporters in the best light. 
  • Consider your audience’s reaction at every step of the process, and you’ll be well prepared to successfully launch your nonprofit’s new branding. 

Your nonprofit’s rebrand can have a positive impact on your organization’s relationship with the public, help you connect better with supporters, and make it easier to attract new donors. Now that you know what to expect if you rebrand your nonprofit, you can evaluate the factors that will determine your success before moving forward.


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  • Sarah A says:

    February 2, 2023 6:33 am

    Thank you for putting things into perspective Ryan.