Who is working on their branding?

I worked with 3 non-profit organizations last year. The one take away from that was that most people (most companies) are more focused on marketing and branding than executing the projects. It was one of the lessons I learnt last year. 

The people and companies that are laser focused on their branding are the ones that seem to make progress. I was puzzled at first. Why was there so much focus on marketing over the work that we were claiming to do. Given the state of the problems we were trying to solve and how dire the situations were, it felt wrong to invest the type of time and energy on marketing. I actually turned out to be a nuisance to the people that wanted me to focus on the marketing. 

Slowly, I noticed that the marketing efforts led to bigger opportunities like a conference or a discussion where people who were doing similar things would discuss their work. Especially around COVID19, the world seemed ready to share and learn from each other. One event would lead to several more events which translates to more marketing opportunities. I was slowly seeing the impact and learning. At some point, I was able to be in a meeting with the UNDP folks who were interested in what we were doing. 

I understand that especially in the non-profit world, it is about who you know and how you can get your fundraising done. Marketing plays a huge role in networking and helping people who can get you either funding or open doors to people that can. I don't think it would be incorrect to say that the most successful non-profit organizations are the ones who have mastered marketing and networking.