No More Bashing Brand Aware Nonprofits
There are many that are criticizing the NFL, and now No More, for not directly making an impact to those intimately affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. This criticism is similar to that of people upset with major nonprofits, especially when talking about wasted resources and overhead – why aren’t you helping people more? How is “raising awareness” helping the people you claim to care about? There are people in need, how can you spent money on developing a brand?
A recent Deadspin article makes their opinion clear – they feel that No More is sham of an organization. The purpose of the No More project was, per their own words, “to give domestic violence and sexual assault something these issues had never had: a unifying brand.“
If the organization claimed to be directly providing services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and survivors, and instead ran large scale marketing campaigns, then yes, what they did would be misleading. But from the start, their aim was to raise awareness, a goal that unfortunately is exceptionally hard to track and quantify.
What is overlooked in this article, as well as most writing that demonizes the perceived misuse of resources for overhead, is the price of efficacy. That price comes in many forms – monetary value, expertise, connections, and networks. Being able to communicate effectively costs something – awareness building and brand development doesn’t come easily.
The origin of the AIDS red ribbon is highlighted as a positive grassroots effort to gain attention to a worthy cause. But this is exceptionally hard to replicate for a multitude of reasons. First of all, this event happened in a very different communications and media generation. Secondly, the saturation of causes and nonprofits in the national landscape was significantly less than it is now. Having a good cause isn’t enough anymore. And assuming that nonprofits, and their partners, must play by different rules in order to live up to arbitrary moral and charitable standards limits the impact that these organizations can possibly have.
No More went with a more traditional brand creation process to help achieve their goal of raising awareness. And I challenge those to say that they haven’t been effective. More people are talking about domestic violence and sexual assault. More are considering the ramifications of staying silent. More are reaching out to local organizations and considering ways to help.
And in their goal of raising awareness, the National Football League is an ideal partner to amplify their voice and reach. While the NFL has its many, many faults, it is very good at selling. And it is very good at capturing, and keeping, your attention. Regardless of the intent of the NFL in crafting this partnership, from the perspective of No More, there was no better brand partner in order to truly elevate their impact.
No More is not a sham – it is just not the nonprofit you think should exist. Not all nonprofits provide direct services and some have to focus their work to create more awareness and understanding about under-served communities and issues. It is unfair to expect all nonprofits to adhere to the same model and satisfy unrealistic, ambiguous, and austere standards, especially in a business world and society where generating and keeping attention is essential for generating results. While I may not be purchasing No More branded TOMS, I will continue to support organizations that are helping those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. And I won’t chastise an organization for helping to raise awareness when awareness is needed – and taking the steps necessary to accomplish that.