Brooke Foley – Building Your 501c3 Brand Through Team Alignment

Brooke Foley tackles staff conflict using team building and organizational branding to create trust between generations. Here’s what the founder of the Jayne Agency has to share:

Misunderstandings happen all of the time. But when they happen inside of a 501c3, board members, staff, and C-suite executives find themselves in a bit of a quandary.

Nonprofits use storytelling to influence everything, including development, fundraising, donation and recruiting. But if the organization isn’t fundamentally aligned internally, it’s hard to tell a story.

“As a non-profit and advocacy organization, being able to clearly and persuasively tell our story is critical to our donors and the communities we serve. Jayne Agency’s brand strategy methodology is a timely and invaluable tool for this important moment. The process illuminates previously unidentified areas of ambiguity and disagreement as well as topics of commonality. What emerges from this process are insights that not only ground our brand, but our broader organizational objectives as well, spanning community connection, culture, fundraising, roles and responsibilities.”

 -Cara Hendrickson, Executive Director at BPI, Chicago


Inside a 501c3 are many potential sources of misalignment, including technology adoption, sociological trends, and age-related trends that directly impact roles and responsibilities. For instance, it’s common for a 501c3’s staff to be primarily Gen Z and Millennials, while its directors and C-Suite are Gen X and its board and founders are Baby Boomers and Golden years. When there is a disconnect in storytelling, the assumption is that there are “generational gaps” that need to be filled.

In reality, these are differing perspectives and misalignments that can be damaging if left unchecked, but easy to fix with intention and commitment to what we call “internal brand.”

Accusations Heard Around the Office – Sound Familiar?

“The board” doesn’t get THIS mission in today’s world. – Millennial, Staff

“Those millennials ” have no idea what it means to mind this mission. They don’t care about anything and expect everything to come to them. In my day we had to work hard.” – Board Member, Founder

“I don’t understand how to ‘manage millennials.’ I can’t get anything done.” – Executive Director

“I care so much about this mission. But it feels so bad to be a part of ‘this place.’” – Millennial, Volunteer

“There is no way to fix this.” – Director

How do you find clarity in those sentiments? We find that simple brand strategy exercises can drive alignment across generations, initiatives, roles and responsibilities. What’s more, they tend to create strategic focus and remove subjectivity and emotion out of thoughts and chatter, allowing for connection, innovation and mission alignment.

Brooke Foley – Building Your 501c3 Brand Through Team Alignment

Nothing brings a board, C-suite and staff together like passionately agreeing on how to talk about their mission. The most powerful way to do that is to start with the strategy of the 501c3’s brand. Developing clarity through brand strategy is often avoided because it is seen as an “unnecessary expense” or a “luxury.” In reality, brand strategy helps lead to financial stability, which is essential to both pursuing and accomplishing the mission.

There are many different ways to clarify and solidify a brand strategy. The following six techniques cover a wide range of reasons why misalignment happens.

You can engage in one, or explore all six:

  • Develop a brand platform in stages – Create alignment through brand strategy and brand platform exercises by forming logical “groups” within the organization, then bring all the groups together. Celebrate the alignment, negotiate the differences.
  • Build a Custom Survey – A custom survey digs into the specifics of your nonprofit’s brand. You can use this as a free tool online, or engage a consultant to help confirm and align the brand platform.
  • Storytelling – Create and build the brand’s unique story with emotional connections. Allow different groups to tell the brand’s story, then vote as an organization on the one you celebrate most.
  • Group Evolution – Build culture around progress and alignment. Create ways to recognize key brand ambassadors internally and externally.
  • Reflection – Demonstrations of acknowledgement and recognition for team progress and moments of brand alignment.
  • New Age Board Governance – Shift governance to protect the new brand platform and mission, which frees up resources and engages all.


Understanding where misalignment stems from allows you to determine which action will work to help resolve the dissonance. Whether it’s age-related or technology driven, all missions experience “drift.” Use brand strategy as a tool to find clarity and alignment and prevent mission drift.

Looking to find your clarity through alignment and brand strategy? Contact [email protected]. Stay tuned as we work with NANOE to help everyone reach alignment and tell their stories in the most effective ways possible.

Brooke Foley - Building Your 501c3 Brand Through Team Alignment
Jayne Agency, LLC
PO Box 556 | Highland Park, IL 60035
o: 312.464.8100 | c: 773.203.2205 |

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