From Sympathy to Support: Inspiring Passionate Donations


At Liminal, we champion the idea that messaging clarity, impeccable design, modern logos, contemporary colors, and typography all converge to position nonprofit organizations in the best light. The unfortunate reality is that while many organizations do incredible work on the ground—with exemplary staff and programs that create tangible impact—their branding and online presence often don’t reflect this excellence.

In today’s digital age, sleek and modern design aesthetics are often associated with cool startups and innovative tech companies. However, we believe that this gold standard of design and presentation shouldn’t be exclusive to the corporate sector. Why should nonprofits lag behind in representing themselves with similar quality visual representation?

The most impactful nonprofit organizations deserve to be recognized not just for their admirable missions but also for their commitment to excellence in every facet, including their branding. Just as a cutting-edge startup proudly showcases its identity, a nonprofit should radiate the same quality and professionalism in its visual representation. After all, both strive to make a significant impact, albeit in different arenas.

Some nonprofits hesitate to invest in polished branding, thinking it may portray an image of extravagance or undermine the perception of their need. They’re concerned that appearing “too professional” might deter donors. At Liminal, we’ve seen firsthand that this isn’t the case. Not only do donors want to associate with organizations they can proudly promote to their networks, but a professional brand also instills confidence and pride in the nonprofit’s staff and board. No one wants to champion an organization that seems outdated or ineffective, even if they do outstanding work.

We worked with a client whose new executive director was initially hesitant to announce her position on LinkedIn because she felt the organization’s old branding did not reflect her level of professionalism. On another rebranding project, we learn of a board member who was once reluctant to share his organization’s website. After a branding makeover, he became one of the organization’s most vocal online advocates.

These examples underline a fundamental truth: High-quality branding and design are not mere cosmetic enhancements. They communicate the organization’s competence, professionalism, and efficacy. Donors, especially substantial donors, are often motivated by a combination of altruism and personal prestige. They don’t just want to do good; they want to be seen doing good with organizations that reflect excellence.

To put it in stark financial terms, consider a donor who has the capacity to make a significant $25,000 donation. They might allocate $20,000 to an organization they view as professional, impactful, and contemporary. On the other hand, they might only contribute $1,000 to an organization that appears less mature and professional.

Following a rebrand, it’s not just individuals who take notice; foundations and grantors pay attention too. Mature brands convey a sense of confidence and capacity. Foundations are more inclined to trust and invest in organizations that present themselves professionally, believing that they will be good stewards of grant funding. In a competitive nonprofit landscape, showcasing a cohesive and professional brand can be the edge that attracts substantial support from these grant-making entities.

Gina Fuchs, Head of Marketing and Partnerships at The David Prize says, “When individuals are deeply immersed in their work, especially in the non-profit and advocacy sectors, it can often be challenging to rationalize the allocation of time and resources to branding and messaging. However, fostering a cohesive brand identity and messaging framework is not only about the external appearance of an organization; it also streamlines its internal operations.”

At Liminal, we aim to help nonprofits understand that quality design, messaging, and branding are about more than just looking pretty. They’re about conveying the essence, passion, and effectiveness of their work. By elevating their external image, nonprofits can inspire donors to give more generously, not out of pity, but out of profound respect.

Todd Hiestand

Todd has over 20 years of experience as a leader in the nonprofit sector. He has served in a wide variety of roles, guiding digital marketing, technology, fundraising, eCommerce, and communications strategies. His expertise in developing systems and processes has helped launch organizations and sustain growth over time.