Surrounding two small ponds in northeastern Wisconsin, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is a 76-acre urban nature reserve that provides a quiet sanctuary in hectic times. The private nonprofit relies on donations to maintain its ADA-accessible wetland board walk and three miles of nature trails. Donations also support the nature center, with its unique ‘living water’ displays. More than 50,000 people visit each year, and organizers say branding is crucial. The nature preserve demonstrates four easy ways to help keep your nonprofit top of mind.
Stay visible—on and off site
A logo always triggers curiosity, comments and questions, says Chris Langenfeld, who is the site’s director of fund development. Staff wear polo shirt uniforms and jackets with the reserve’s embroidered logo. This helps visitors know who staff are and encourages them to ask questions and offer feedback on Heckrodt—even when staffers are away from the site. “We get that good, direct feedback. Everybody looks at a logo…It identifies you as part of something bigger,” Langefeld said. “Our logo represents that bigger thing that we’re about.”
Help visitors remember special times
There are no admission fees at Heckrodt, but visitors are encouraged to donate if they can. “We want to remove any barrier with getting people into nature,” explained Luke Schiller, Heckrodt’s Education Director. So, every effort is made to make the site and its trails accessible to all, including those with physical challenges. “When you have a good time, you are inspired to preserve it,” Luke said.
While visitors will likely always remember the uniqueness of the site (like soaring down the zipline to simulate a hawk diving for its prey or seeing wildlife along the trail), Heckrodt also offers stickers as an inexpensive nonprofit giveaway to help visitors remember their visit. They can be applied to so many things—like water bottles, vehicles and clothing—that will be seen again and again. The stickers are used as giveaways for events and along the trails during pop-up educational programs and tours.
Calendars for year-round advertising
Heckrodt came up with a clever fundraising tool using their own location as inspiration. They hold a contest where people submit photos they took at the center or out on the trails. The winning photos and their photographers’ names are used in a calendar. You can do the same using photos from annual events or ones taken by volunteers. Give everyone who’s photo is featured in the calendar one free as a thank-you.
Branded gifts for volunteers and donors
Logoed gifts are a great way to thank donors and volunteers for their hard work and generosity. T-shirts are probably the most popular gift for volunteers, but polos, jackets, tote bags, padfolios and computer bags all work well for donors, depending on budget and your donor preferences. Vacuum-insulated travel mugs, engraved pens and umbrellas also make practical thank-you gifts for donors and volunteers. You can even make specific gifts available for specific donation amounts.
Like so many other not-for-profit organizations, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve depends on donations to keep its operations running smoothly. Their nonprofit giveaway ideas can help other charitable groups spread brand awareness, raise funds or thank supporters.