What Silicon Valley Can Learn from a Non-Profit

Branding non-profit organizations can be a difficult task for some marketers because there is rarely a large advertising budget and the marketing sophistication of the staff is often limited. Girls for a Change (GFC) is a non-profit organization based in Silicon Valley and Phoenix that has built a strong brand despite having no advertising budget. How they have done this is branding the old-fashioned way: developing a compelling product or service, creating word-of-mouth and loyal partnerships, and delivering on the brand.

I know this from personal experience having been a volunteer coach for one of GFC’s Girl Action Teams in East Palo Alto this year. GFC’s mission is to help disadvantaged girls to become social change agents in their communities, and in the process nurture confidence, self-worth and leadership in each girl.

A Unique Personality and Brand Consistency

Starting with a contemporary lime green logo, the Girls for a Change brand personality is of a cool, fun but meaningful organization that understands the needs of at-risk girls and their potential. These brand attributes are underscored in the opening and closing gatherings that feature hip hop bands and dancers, young poets and rappers, and the girls themselves taking leadership at the events in emcee capacity and skits. Almost all GFC meetings have time for sharing and fun connection games as well as planning and execution of a social change project that the girls do with only guidance from the adult coaches.

The girls are supported with warmth and understanding from their coaches, and the coaches are supported with monthly coach training, GFC toolkit and consultants, staff and other coaches. The network is powerful. And that’s only the inside network.

Outside of GFC is an incredible network of donors—both corporate and individual, supportive local and state government officials, and partnering schools that encourage their girls to join Girls for a Change.

A Lesson for For-Profits

Silicon Valley companies that are so impatient for brand success could take a lesson from this “not well capitalized start-up” in how building your influencer and constituent ecosystem, and delivering on your product and brand promise can go a long way toward building a strong brand.


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