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Why charity branding is good for fundraising

17/05/2013

In the last week there have been lots of conversations around why branding is potentially pointless for charities and can be a total waste of hard-earned money.

Well, I’m here to (loosely) use maths and logic, the core tools of good fundraisers, to suggest why this need not be the case.

Firstly, here’s a truism I think we can all agree on:

  • Unfocused, generic brand advertising ≠ guaranteed success for a charity’s specific activities

But if done well, I know the right kind of branding activities support fundraising and services alike.  So here’s the thinking…

Part 1

  • Charity brand = product of (everything we say, everything we do) = how our audiences perceive us
  • Getting audiences to perceive us positively = consistent education of our audiences around what we do, how, and why we’re great at delivering awesome outcomes = effective charity branding activity
  • Delivering consistent messages + consistent services ≠ huge marketing costs + huge branding costs (it’s mostly about walking the walk and sharing that fact with others)
  • Charity brand ≠ a tool for the sole use of one department

Therefore,

An effective charity brand = one of the strongest assets we have to make all of our interactions with target audiences credible.

Part 2 – fundraising specifics

  • Well planned, targeted and executed direct marketing = greater likelihood of fundraising success
  • Focused, key ASK messages within DM = likelihood of greater response rates
  • Having to educate and persuade in the same DM piece = too many words on the charity + not enough focus on the ASK

And now consider…

  • Effective charity branding activity (see above) = education piece already done = fundraising activity does not have to use limited space to get these points across = more focused fundraising messages

Therefore, the final result is:

Effective charity branding activity = greater likelihood of improved fundraising results = More £ to invest in delivering awesome outcomes.

I think we could prove the same point around charities needing to have effective brand awareness in order to support their ‘beneficiaries’… if the people who need us don’t know we’re here or that we can help them, how are going to offer any kind of support?

What do you think?

PS – I know my Pure Maths A-Level was a long time ago and I’m not actually suggesting this is a mathematical exercise.  It’s all about cause and effect I think.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Bailey permalink
    19/05/2013 2:21 am

    Great article – methodically takes us through the justification.

    In my view the flaw in the thinking is there will seldom be a situation where a finite charity budget is better spent on activity that delivers 0 income.

    Assuming the budget choice is brand awareness activity or fundraising, 1 scenario targets people who are likely to want to engage with the charity and will probably deliver income, can be measured and meets KPIs for the fundraiser and charity – the other scenario produces untargeted, expensive communication with long term, unmeasurable impact and no income.

    I know where my money would be spent.

    • 20/05/2013 3:09 pm

      And you’ve raised another great point Paul… the question of brand awareness activity OR fundraising. I know my pseudo maths approach made the process look quite binary but I genuinely don’t think it’s that simple. The relationship is symbiotic and the key question I find myself asking is whether the traditional model of ‘brand awareness advertising’ is relevant at all.

      Brand awareness is not just about advertising, after all. A charity needs to let its audiences know that its there to help them. How does it do this without awareness activity of some kind? How do we attract volunteers or lobby government for social change?

      Great fundraising is hugely important but it’s a means to an end and not the end in itself (not that I’m suggesting the chaps at Pareto think otherwise). Consequently, budget decisions are seldom as clear cut as to delivering 1 or the other. But that’s just my opinion.

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