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Branding Bytes Archives

Issue 35:
Thoughts On Using Social Media

Issue 34:
Reigning in Public-Private Partnerships

Issue 33:
Seven Ways to Avoid Toxicity In the Workplace

Issue 32:
A Few Bad Apples Bruise the Brand

Issue 31:
Branding Beyond the Logo

Issue 30:
The Yin and Yang of Celebrity Leadership

Issue 29:
Want to Raise More Funds? SPEAK UP!

Issue 28:
Government Funding Cuts: Act!

Issue 27:
"We Are Sorry":
Your Brand is Your Behavior

Issue 26:
Tell Your Story

Issue 25:
Good Leaders

Issue 24:
Think "People,"
Not "Organization"

Issue 23:
What's in a Name?
Just about Everything!

Issue 22:
Is Your Mission
Getting Creepy?

Issue 21:
Welcome to the Age
of the New Normal

Issue 20:
"Receptionist" vs Director of First Brand Impressions

Issue 19:
It's Not About How Your Message is Delivered

Issue 18:
When it Comes to Your Brand, Details Matter

Issue 17:
A Good Brand Requires TLC: Just Ask My Wife!

Issue 16:
Toxic-Work-Environment Syndrome Can Tarnish Your Brand

Issue 15:
Adjusting to the
New Face of Need

Issue 14:
Tired of all the Doom and Gloom? This is Your Time!

Issue 13:
A New Year's Resolution: Don't Cut Off Your Nose

Issue 12:
What You Do Is
About All of Us

Issue 11:
Ethical Standards
and Your Organization

Issue 10:
Leadership: Whose Journey is it, Anyway?

Issue 9:
Giving Circles
and Branding

Issue 8:
The World's Richest Men
— and Philanthropy

Issue 7:
What is an External
Brand Audit?

Issue 6:
Keeping Everyone
on Brand Message

Issue 5:
What is an Internal
Brand Audit?

Issue 4:
Turn Board Members into Better Brand Ambassadors

Issue 3:
Leadership, Vision
— and Branding

Issue 2:
What's 1st—Organization or Brand? / Govt. Cuts?—Branding Helps

Issue 1:
Branding Myths

Issue 32, Fall 2013

A Few Bad Apples Bruise the Brand of the Entire Sector

In the communications business perception is reality.

And lately the media has provided the giving public a large dose of perception that many nonprofits are often less than accountable or honorable in the use of the funds they raise, as well as the tax-exempt status the government bestows on them to do public good.

The sad fact is that there is truth in many of these stories.

Sadder yet is that the skepticism stories such as these generate makes it increasingly difficult for the overwhelming majority of trustworthy nonprofits to raise funds, especially during these harsh economic times.

The Issue

In June, CNN, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting, ran a long, detailed story on the results of their year-long investigation to identify “America’s worst charities”.

The CNN story named names and gave specific examples of how some “charities”, in particular those that employ for-profit companies to raise their donations, use names similar to those of legitimate charities to fool donors, lie to donors about where their money goes, secretly pay themselves consulting fees, spend an inordinate amount on fundraising, along with other questionable practices.

More recently, The Washington Post published a front-page story entitled “Millions lost by nonprofits, with little explanation” that has spurred federal and state officials to launch numerous investigations into whether hundreds of nonprofits properly reported financial losses to authorities, including hundreds of millions of dollars in the aggregate lost to fraud and employee embezzlement.

This does not include the one-off stories about mismanaged organizations that fall under the rubric of “nonprofit” that tarnish the entire sector’s trusted brand image every time they are mentioned in the media.

Not a pretty picture for donors seeking to ensure that their donations serve the greatest good.

The Challenge

Some within the sector fault the media for airing the dirty laundry of what they rightfully note turns out to be a relatively small number of “outliers” that give the public the impression that the entire nonprofit world teems with such dubious activities.

Outliers or not, these marginal nonprofit organizations are still legally part of the sector, taking advantage of their tax-exempt status—and donors.

Besides, we who work in or for the sector can’t blame the media for exposing these bad apples. It’s the media’s job to investigate and report such things.

In fact, as citizens whose taxpayer dollars subsidize the tax-exempt status of the sector, we should all take heart when outliers are exposed. Every dollar donated to one of these problematic organizations is a dollar a legitimate nonprofit—and the communities and people they serve—is doing without.

However we care to rationalize this situation, it should not absolve us from asking what should be done to reaffirm the public’s trust in the sector and its all-important work.

Some Suggestions

This is the sector in our economy that I’ve been most proud to serve for nearly four decades. Let’s not let a handful of bad apples take that pride from us.

My thanks and appreciation to GuideStar for republishing this article in its Jan. 9, 2014, on-line newsletter.

Bits & Bytes

As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.

In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry

About Branding Bytes

Branding Bytes is a FREE quarterly e-newsletter courtesy of Larry Checco of Checco Communications. Please feel free to forward Branding Bytes on to others. However, Branding Bytes is copyrighted and may not be reprinted or reproduced without attributing Larry Checco of Checco Communications as its source and providing the following website address: Thank you.


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