FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Trademarks for Non-Profit Organizations

Why is trademark registration so important for non-profit organizations?

In this video, you will learn about why protecting your brand is an essential part of any non-profit organization.



Should you bother trademarking your brand if you're a non-profit? I'm Andrei Mincov and as the founder of Trademark Factory, I often see messages from representatives of non-profit organizations who are not sure if they should trademark their brands.

The underlying assumption behind their questions, of course, is that since they are a non-profit, their brand might not be worth protecting—unless someone is willing to help them trademark it for free. In this video, I'm going to tell you a story that will serve as the clearest example of why—especially if you're a non-profit—you should treasure your brand as your most valuable asset.

But first, let me tell you a story.

40 years ago, in 1980, there lived a 7-year-old boy, Chris, who aspired to be a police officer. Unfortunately, his dream was not to come true because Chris was dying of leukemia. A kind soul orchestrated a plan for Chris to spend a day as a police officer when he rode in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and was sworn in as the first honorary Public Safety patrolman in state history. Soon after, Chris died, but his wish became the inspiration for the Make-A-Wish organization.

In 1981, Make-A-Wish granted its first official wish to another boy, Frank. NBC Magazine wrote about it and, with all the publicity, Make-A-Wish started forming chapters in the U.S. In 1983, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. But before that, in September of 1982, Make-A-Wish Foundation filed their first two trademark application to protect the name, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and their logo.

Now they own over 70 different trademarks, but why did they feel they had to protect their brand so early? Why did they feel they had to invest in the protection of their brand at all? The answer revolves around one simple word—TRUST. And speaking of trust, if you could take a second and like this video and subscribe to this channel if you haven't already, I'd very much appreciate it.

Now, going back to Make-A-Wish Foundation, if they couldn't stop impostors from using the same or a similar name to seek donations from the public, who would ever trust them with one dollar—let alone millions of dollars they receive in donations every year? If impostors COULD use the name Make-a-Wish foundation with impunity, how long would it be before the public outrage around stolen donations ruined a great idea?

Whatever you do—and it's as true for non-profit organizations as it is for for-profit companies, you need other people's money to come in to support whatever it is you're doing. Here's the thing: for-profit companies can get away with many evil things and still be profitable as long as they continue to supply the market with something that the market badly wants. 

With non-profits, REPUTATION is their main currency. And your brand is the symbol of that reputation. That's what people trust! If you don't own your brand, you have no control over your reputation. And if you have no control over your reputation, it's pretty hard to build any trust around whatever cause you're claiming to support. And the only way to own your brand is by trademarking it before somebody else does.

In a way, non-profits need trademarks even more than for-profit companies—because they have the responsibility beyond just selling something to make money. If you're running a non-profit, you are responsible for everyone who has trusted you with a penny of donations—and you are responsible for everyone who has come to depend on you for support.

Getting your brand trademarked is an operational expense for your non-profit, just like any other operational expense. It's something you have an obligation to take care of—before the good name of your non-profit is tarnished and you have to start all over again. Make-A-Wish did it before they incorporated it. What are you waiting for?

If you're a non-profit and would like to preserve the goodwill around your brand name, logo, and taglines, book a free call with one of our strategy advisors. They'll be happy to walk you through the process and help you get started. If your cause is worth your while, you must securely protect your brand without hesitation. Book your call today. And until then, I'll see you in the next video.

Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.