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Hopeless Causes May be Saved by Smart Branding

By Susan Carey Dempsey on April 15, 2010One Comment

In a column on a unique conservation program he visited in Zimbabwe, Nicholas Kristof observed the effectiveness of savvy branding and marketing skills, traits he says many “do-gooders” possess in short supply. Kristof, who frequently writes about nonprofit causes, says the program created by Greg Rasmussen to save wild dogs benefited greatly from Rasmussen’s decision to rename the animals “painted dogs.”

“Pepsi and Coke invest fortunes to promote their products over their rivals, while humanitarians aren’t nearly as savvy about marketing causes with far higher stakes — famine, disease, mass murder.”

Of interest to nonprofit leaders and activists is Rasmussen’s additional wise decisions, to involve local communities in the conservation project, which includes economic development programs for local villages, as well as a children’s camp which donors can sponsor for $60 a child.

“It’s a tale that offers some useful lessons for do-gooders around the world, in clever marketing and “branding,” and in giving local people a stake in conservation.  For if it’s possible to rescue a despised species with a crummy name like “wild dogs,” any cause can have legs.”

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One Comment »

  • Elaine Fogel says:

    Susan, this is so true! It’s been this way for years, yet so many nonprofit boards and decision makers have been reluctant to embrace branding and marketing because they think the cost is too high. Yet, so many branding strategies and tactics don’t cost much at all. Look at the results you mention.

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