3 min Read
November 29, 2023

Building a strong reputation: How nonprofit professionals can shape their personal brand

Sabrina Walker Hernandez

In the nonprofit sector, where relationships and trust are crucial for success, building a strong reputation is essential to organizational growth.

Your personal brand is closely connected to how people see your organization. To connect with other organizations, donors, volunteers, and businesses, you need a good reputation. Think about it: who wants to be associated with someone who has a negative name and image? So, when you network and represent your nonprofit, make sure to leave a strong and lasting impression every time. Remember, you represent your organization, so show a good image every time.

Trust is the foundation of successful relationships. Building trust means being honest, having integrity, and caring about others’ interests. When people see that you’re dependable, they’ll trust you. Be genuine, do the right thing, and watch your relationships grow stronger.

Show an interest in others: Listen actively to people’s stories, ask about their work and personal lives, and try to remember things they’ve told you before. By showing real interest, you’ll make a lasting impression and form meaningful connections. Introverts, your strength is listening and remembering, so use it to your advantage when networking.

Work hard: People want to support those who get things done and succeed. Show them that you can deliver before expecting their support. When someone asks for something, go the extra mile and give a little more. I like to say “under-promise and over-deliver.” Building relationships takes effort, and sometimes you have to be the first to lend a hand.

Focus on giving: Building relationships means thinking about how you can help others in your network. Instead of just thinking about what you can get from them, focus on providing value. By offering support and assistance, you become a reliable resource. People are more likely to help you in return, especially in the early stages of your relationship.

To maintain a strong reputation, avoid common mistakes that can damage relationships and trust.

  • Be consistent. Treat everyone with respect and kindness. Consistency shows that you’re sincere and genuine.
  • Admit mistakes. Taking responsibility when you mess up is important for building trust. People understand that mistakes happen, but lying about them can permanently damage your relationships.
  • Be reliable. Keep your commitments, be on time, and follow through on your promises. Missing meetings or not keeping your word can have a big impact on your relationships.
  • Watch your words. Be careful about what you say and how you say it. Avoid making careless remarks or speaking negatively about others. Stay professional because you represent yourself wherever you go.
  • Show your appreciation. When someone makes an introduction or recommendation on your behalf, be sure to thank them for their time and effort. Acknowledging other’s efforts will lead them to feel valued and more likely to support you again in the future. 

Building a strong reputation is an ongoing process. Continuously refine your personal brand and adapt as needed. Show trustworthiness, genuine interest, hard work, and a focus on giving. Over time, your reputation will grow stronger, opening doors to new opportunities and collaborations.

By following these strategies, nonprofit professionals can shape their personal brand, and establish a strong reputation. Remember, relationships are crucial in the nonprofit sector, and a solid personal brand is the key to forming meaningful connections and achieving long-term success.


About the author:
Sabrina Walker Hernandez is a certified consultant, coach, and facilitator that helps small nonprofit staff and boards build relationships that convert into more donations through Supporting World Hope. She has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and leadership. Sabrina is certified in Nonprofit Management by Harvard Business School. She is an active community leader and volunteer in Edinburg, Texas where she is based.

Sabrina Walker Hernandez