I came across a thought provoking list the other day called the The Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100. You can view the top 10 here http://www.coneinc.com/nonprofitpowerbrand100release and get the full report if you give Cone your email address.
Mini-reports and lists like this are more for PR and don't really have a lot of scientific validity. People are drawn to lists - which is why I'm blogging about it.
The report does have some value though. First, it lists the top 100 revenue generating orgs in the nonprofit sector and organizes them by the type of cause they support. This is nice and comes in handy for people interested in the sector. Second, the report lists the top spenders on PR, marketing and advertising.
Unfortunately, a donor can look at this list and draw the following conclusion: If I give to one of the organizations in this list, a large portion of my donation will go towards marketing & advertising and not towards addressing the problems that I want solved.
This list could also be viewed as the top 100 fundraising machines in the nonprofit sector. There is nothing in the methodology that addresses effectiveness of the org. The report states that the organizations' efficiency (percent of every revenue dollar put toward program services) was factored in but we really don't know how heavily this was weighted when determining the final brand image value. Finally, social ROI is difficult to measure from such a high level and is out of the scope of this report.
The bottom line is:
- The orgs in this report have massive PR and marketing departments that allow them to develop a strong brand.
- There is nothing in the report that allows one to conclude that these organizations are the best places to donate.
- Finally, you can be certain that if you give to one of these orgs, a very large portion of your donation will go to the marketing and advertising department and not to those in need.
Thanks to Cone for putting in the effort to create this list.