Some of the most beautiful cities in the world are known for their fountains. I believe that Greenville is indeed one of those places. I am also quite smitten with Rome and its Trevi Fountain…so much so, that I named our family cat Trevi.

As you gaze into a fountain and listen to the soothing sound of running water, do you ever wonder where all of those wistfully thrown coins go? I’d like to believe that our lucky coins are going to support some important charitable cause. To this point, some years ago I helped retrieve the coins from the fountain at Haywood Mall for the Greenville Humane Society. And what a heavy load that was! Small change quickly added up to big dollars for our four-legged friends.

As we celebrate this holiday season please don’t lose sight of the significance of your financial support to the sustainability of the nonprofits in our community. Each year fundraising professionals employ a wide variety of strategies to reach their budgetary goals…everything from collecting children’s pennies to hosting exquisite galas and visiting with potential donors. All of these activities are important, however, to ensure success, organizations must FIRST build community awareness and understanding of their missions. Without a strong organizational brand, much time and energy will be wasted.

In short, BRANDING is the answer to a question posed by my friend Ellen at the annual Leadership South Carolina luncheon when she asked the following:

What is the significance of the changing rainbow of colors in the fountain located on South Main Street at the entrance to Falls Park? Over the past months I have noticed water flowing in…teal, pink and purple.
~Ellen T

Each of these colors boldly represents an important cause that may touch your life or the lives of your friends and family members.

TEAL – Ovarian Cancer Awareness
PINK – Breast Cancer Awareness
PURPLE – Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of the press conference held by the South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation at the brink of this landmark fountain as it turned teal. It was a moving experience to see the survivors and families on this day of recognition. One of my coworkers was brought to tears. I want to express my sincere appreciation to the City of Greenville for allowing this great opportunity to build awareness about Ovarian Cancer. And a special thank you to Mayor Pro Tem, David Sudduth, who shared some remarks about his personal connection to this devastating disease.

Ellen, branding is essential for all nonprofit organizations. An effective brand communicates mission, builds trust, raises awareness and impacts long-term sustainability. By turning the water on Main Street to representative brand colors, these organizations are creatively expressing their identity.

So the next time you walk past a fountain or sit on a bench to watch the giggling toddlers as they dodge the water drops, think about a cause that is near and dear to your heart…and then cast a penny for me.

Until next time,
Debbie

NONPROFIT MATTERS WAS PUBLISHED IN THE UPSTATE BUSINESS JOURNAL ON JANUARY 4, 2013

Thank you to the Upstate Business Journal (UBJ) for inviting me to be a regular contributor to their publication. My goal in writing this column is to share my passion for nonprofits by bringing to light relevant information and success stories. This column is presented in a question and answer format. So whether you are a nonprofit professional, an active community volunteer or someone just looking for a way to get involved, I want to hear from you. I invite you to read all of my UBJ columns here.