Journal of International Information Management


Despite the economic significance non-profit organizations (NPOs) have acquired in recent years, the implications of the Internet for NPO marketing seem to have received only little attention from both researchers and practi tioners. Although NPO marketing has been the subject of academic research for more than 30 years, NPO brand'ing has been studied for just about 10 years (cf. Hankinson, 2001). Recent research on branding in the nonprofit s«:ctor includes, for example, an assessment of the impact of brand orientation on non-profit performance (Hanldnson, 2001; Hankinson, 2002) and the development of a non-profit brand orientation scale (Ewing and Napoli 200^1). In particular, the small body of literature on e-branding for NPOs calls for an investigation into e-branding stratsgie:s for NPOs. Ruscli (2002) rhetorically asks if investing in a brand can be seen as a frivolous activity for NPOs in view of their not-for-profit mission, but he concludes that a better understanding of NPO branding will lead to a more effective use of their donations, which eventually furthers the NPOs' causes. Although the peculiar organizational structure of NPOs fosters creativity and innovation, they often lack the motivation to exploit these opportunities commercially. Also, it seems that NPOs have not yet seized the opportunity to fully integrate the Internet into their busraess processes with a view to enhancing their core competencies, even though NPOs - particularly educational institutions - vrere actually the first organizations to use the Internet (Clay, 2002). Based on the assumption that well thought-out strategies for internal and extemal communication will help NPOs to build such e-brands, this paper begins with an outline of relevant aspects of both NPOs and e-communication. The main argument put forward in this paper is that successful e-branding for NPOs is determined by the aligmnent of intra-organizational and extemal communication capabilities. The conceptual framework for NPO e-branding we arrived at is based on qualitative inten'iews with NPOs from different sectors and an examination of their public Web sites. The paper concludes with hands-on recommendations for NPO communication strategies and suggestions for further research.