Your Org’s Personality in Three Words?

What is your organization's personality?When I ask staff at nonprofits to describe their organization’s public personality, I often get blank stares, or something like “Ummm . . . we don’t have one, so I guess, well, how about ‘boring?'”

I admit, it’s a tough question, especially if you’ve never considered that an organization could even have a personality in the first place. But the personality concept is important to the idea of organizational branding, and it’s really essential when you start to consider your social media strategy, where personality goes a long way.

Here’s another way to think about this: How do you want your organization to be perceived?

Whether or not you think your organization embodies a certain kind of personality now, what would you like it to be?

Here are 50 positive personality traits. Do you see your organization in these words?

  • Affectionate
  • Ambitious
  • Candid
  • Caring
  • Cheerful
  • Confident
  • Considerate
  • Cooperative
  • Courageous
  • Creative
  • Decisive
  • Determined
  • Enthusiastic
  • Flexible
  • Focused
  • Friendly
  • Frugal
  • Fun
  • Grateful
  • Hard-working
  • Helpful
  • Humble
  • Honest
  • Imaginative
  • Intrepid
  • Involved
  • Loving
  • Loyal
  • Meticulous
  • Mysterious
  • Observant
  • Opinionated
  • Optimistic
  • Positive
  • Punctual
  • Practical
  • Rational
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
  • Responsive
  • Serious
  • Soulful
  • Tactful
  • Tenacious
  • Thoughtful
  • Tolerant
  • Trustworthy
  • Versatile
  • Warm
  • Witty

I pulled ideas from this list and this list, if you want more adjectives to play with, or some “negative” versions.

What’s your organization’s personality in three words (either now, or what you aspire to)? Share in the comments.

P.S.  I’m teaching a webinar called “Get Real! Use Your Org’s Personality to Build Rapport with Supporters” on June 2, and would love some great examples to share!


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  • Craig Weinrich

    Good idea! I’ve even encouraged nonprofits in my workshops to describe their organization in three words (or less!). It’s especially useful in three ways: 1. It’s great for teaching non-techie folk how to tweet by communicating only the important things; 2. It focuses their messaging into a very short message; and 3. It’s a quick and fun way to introduce everyone. I borrowed this idea from @NancyLublin:twitter CEO of Do Something.

    For your list:




  • Sharon

    Great post. I thought about this question explicitly when I was starting and made sure to incorporate it into my online presence. I wanted to be optimistic, friendly, and funny. Funny may be too strong of a word. I wanted to be light-heartedly amusing. That’s because I wanted to attract those type of people. People like me.

  • Celise

    I want my future nonprofit to aspire to be creative, fun and imaginative. I’m currently in school getting my degree in Nonprofit Mgmt because I want to start my own community-based, NP creative writing center for teens. I’m hoping the target audience I serve will feel the same way.

    • Laurie

      That is such a cool idea, Celise. As a creative writer, I would have loved a program like this as a teen! 

  • NP Resource Memo

    This is a great question to use in determining brand/tone and also
    to revisit periodically to ensure continuity across all messaging.
    Another value – the results of this exercise could highlight potential
    gaps (between employee experience and management view, between tag-line
    and actual client satisfaction, etc) that must be addressed before the
    nonprofit takes the leap into social media pool. ~MP

  • Gislaine ada

    Thank you for this useful information. Is the participation to your webinar free of

    Kind regards,


  • Geri Stengel

    Gee, only 3? Optimistic, helpful, trustworthy but then I also like to think we are hard-working, sometimes opinionated, and very practical. And I don’t want to leave out respectful or thoughtful. Maybe only 3 words can do it but somehow, boiling things down to the fewest words possible does leave out some of the heart. (That’s the opinionated part coming through.)

  • Ruth

    Our name says it all – Equine Spirit Sanctuary. Our nonprofit is a horse rescue that honors the spirit of the horse, a sanctuary for horses and people also.

  • Laurie

    I work for a nonprofit hospice and I feel three words that describe us well are warm, caring, and helpful. I think our branding reflects this pretty well, but it will be great to keep this in mind for my writing style too.

  • Amy Pollack

    The question of brand personality is one I always ask when brought in to design a logo for an organization or event. Sometimes I frame the question by asking folks to pretend that their org. is a person that they are meeting for the first time; following the encounter, how would they describe that individual to a friend? Personalizing it this way can be helpful.

    Personality will affect the palette, typography, tag line, tone and style of the brand. Additionally, when moving beyond the mark itself, personality will impact the voice of the written word, whether it is an invitation, newsletter, annual report web site or brochure. Once identified, the personality also becomes one of the factors that can be used in evaluating the effectiveness and appeal of design concepts; it helps to control and re-direct some of the arbitrariness that can enter the design evaluation process.

    Thank you for the thoughtful post.

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  • stlevine

    Here’s a question. Our members want us to BE powerful but not APPEAR powerful. Is that a contradiction? (We represent physicians.) How would you proactively approach that?

  • Jolene Miklas

    I love this exercise! I have already contemplated this for my non-profit, Animal Friends. (
    Our personality is: – compassionate
    – playful
    – progressive
    – professional

  • Rsocolof

    You had me at “personality”. Regrettably, I only found out about the June 2 webinar in my June 10 eJewishphilanthropy. When’s the next one?
    Medical Development for Israel, Inc. 

    • Kivi Leroux Miller

      Actually we had to reschedule the webinar to June 14, so there is still time to join us!

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