Rebrand helps conservation nonprofit double its revenue, engage new audience

For Rainforest Trust's anniversary, the nonprofit wanted a new identity that would help raise its profile, attract new donors, and advance its mission.

Paul Salaman, Rainforest Trust
Paul Salaman, Rainforest Trust

After 25 years, our nonprofit conservation organization was at a crossroads. Our mission remained clear: To purchase and protect threatened tropical forests and save endangered wildlife through community engagement and local partnerships.

Our model was working. We had protected more than 7 million rainforest acres in 20 nations. However, we didn’t have a brand that reflected our mission. Our name was World Land Trust-US, which was tough to say, easy to forget, and prone to confusion.  

For our anniversary, we wanted a new identity that would help raise our profile, attract new donors, and advance our mission. The new brand needed to be broadly appealing and reflect our focus on saving rainforests. At the same time, we wanted to maintain continuity with our past. RF|Binder provided us with the expertise needed to start.  

First, we approached our donors, who were receptive to a name change. We studied similar organizations and our research included two public opinion surveys using online panels.

Our new identity came into focus. In September 2013, we became Rainforest Trust and introduced a new logo, an updated website, and increased our presence on social media. To coincide with the announcement, we launched our most ambitious project yet: creating the Sierra do Divisor National Park, a four-year initiative to protect 5.9 million acres of pristine forest in the Peruvian Amazon.

We began to raise our media visibility, meeting with top publications, including The Washington Post, Time, and National Geographic, to share our story and explain the latest project.

The rebrand exceeded our expectations. Donations in the months after the rebranding helped us more than double our revenue from the previous year. Our donor base is up 57%, with 70% of first-time donors contributing after the name change. Our efforts to reach a wider audience are evident in our growing Facebook audience, which has increased from 900 followers to 14,600.

With our first anniversary as Rainforest Trust drawing near, we are expanding our efforts
with projects in Asia and Africa, as well as initiatives in South American countries where we have long worked.

We have achieved these results on a shoestring budget, with the support of staff, board members, RF|Binder, and others. We are a lean organization, which helps us attract donors and maximize our impact. 

Paul Salaman is CEO of Rainforest Trust.

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