Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Abbi Haggerty

Third Advisor

nonprofit, integrity, church, volunteers, branding


The number of nonprofit organizations is growing and the competition for attracting volunteers, employees, and donors is fierce. Effective brand strategy offers the nonprofit a way to advance mission-critical operations, therefore it can be argued that brand strategy too, is a mission-critical operation. Yet, branding in the sector still faces its own set of unique challenges. There are tangible barriers to branding, such as not having the time and resources to do so, but branding also faces a reputation problem in the sector. Kylander and Stone (2011) found the concept is negatively associated with the for-profit sector and that nonprofit leaders tread lightly in their branding strategy limiting the organization’s opportunity to reap the rewards that effective branding can provide. To help nonprofits move past this, Kylander and Stone (2011) responded with their Brand IDEA framework identifying four principles to help nonprofits rethink the way they view branding. This study builds on this framework, investigating how nonprofits understand and implement brands that align with their mission and values, a concept Kylander and Stone defined as “brand integrity.” This study isolates and investigates the concept in two nonprofit, nondenominational churches in Richmond, Virginia. The church was chosen as an attractive case study to better understand the branding of nonprofit missions as the American Christian church is already having to define itself in a competitive “spiritual marketplace” in order to attract younger audiences. This qualitative study, through content analysis of two organizations’ key social media channels and in-person, semi-structured interviews, finds that the nonprofit organization with operations centered around its missions, is well positioned to implement brand integrity, even if the concept is still not well understood by communication professionals in the sector. The findings also identify “pillars” of brand integrity that nonprofit leaders need to consider if they are to implement a brand that closely aligns with the organization’s mission and values. These pillars better position nonprofits to feel confident in their ability to brand their organizations with integrity.