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Brand Management can help Small Charities to Raise More Money


    “Pragmatically, branding should be a critical issue for charities because it has been shown to impact dramatically on income generation.” (Hudson, 2008)

    In the commercial world, a company’s brand is given a monetary value. In the UK last year, Shell topped the league tables at a whopping £30,716m.

    Larger charities have recognised the benefits of branding and rebranding – “Shelter’s repositioning helped land more corporate partners”, “Macmillan’s rebrand helped increase donors by 27% and raised additional £5m” and “Save the Children’s brand refresh helped integrated fundraising appeals raise over 50% more than target of £500,000.” (Civil Society, 2011)

    I was intrigued to find out whether smaller charities were also seeing a correlation between branding  and income generation?

    Working with Cass Business School, I carried out a study of 127 small UK charities with annual incomes of £1 million or less a year –  the types of groups that make up 97.2% of the sector.  Our study looked at whether small charities are managing their brands and whether they gain the same benefits from this as large charities.

    The results were fascinating.

    The small charities agreed that brand management did deliver the same benefits seen by larger organisations. They also identified practical examples of these benefits.

    Benefits of brand management

    • Raised income – “through unifying banner and consistent management of brand”

    • Rise in supporters – “by being better able to manage new and existing supporter expectations”

    • Efficiency savings – “by linking vision and values to internal and external brand management”

    • More partnerships – “by having clear values and messages”

    • Supports strategic growth – “through long-term planning aligned to the vision”

    • Distinguishes us in difficult times – “clarity is attractive to funders and donors”


    How can you get the same benefits?

    1) Define what you mean by brand

    If brand is viewed purely as ‘the logo’ then you will not realise the benefits of brand management, no matter what size of organisation you are. Grounds (2005)  writing on non-profit branding argues: “A brand is quite simply – who you are, what you say and what you do, and the set of relationships that are built on that.” 

    2) Manage your brand

    A strong brand needs active management. We worked with small charities to identify the most common activities required to see strategic benefits of branding.

    Most activities do not need significant resources. Clarity and consistency go a long way.

    3)Brands are not static

    Charities are about social change and that takes time. One brand is unlikely to see a non-profit through its lifetime. All organisations will need to periodically update brands to stay relevant. 

    4) Brand management is a team sport

    The charities where the brand is managed by a team from across the organisation are better able to reap the rewards of branding and manage resource barriers. Charities where the brand was left to a single person or the “senior team” struggled to see the benefits. Teams should include volunteers and trustees. Turning your team into brand ambassadors can be a real strength for smaller organisations.

    Natasha Roe is Founding Director of Red Pencil and carried out research with small charities during her MSc studies with Cass Business SchoolIn Part 2 of this guest blog she will share the barriers to investing in branding that her research identified and the ideas small charities came up with to overcome them.

    Illustration by Alec Leggat

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