How to maximise your charity brand in 2016

Maximise Brand1

With a New Year comes a chance to think afresh about ways to get your charity brand noticed. Prior to joining JustGiving, I spent nearly 20 years working as a strategist in creative agencies. While I think there are many lessons that business can learn from the charity sector, there are also examples of creative thinking from brands that might be inspiring to charities of all sizes. Below are some ideas that I was involved with in past lives, which I hope will encourage you to grab every opportunity in 2016.

Take a position on an issue that generates disproportionate impact for your brand

Like brands competing for consumers, charities are also competing for the giving pound. And while being big has its advantages, you don’t always need scale to grab attention. An interesting story will often generate more energy than a big budget. This was certainly the case with the Dove ‘Campaign for real beauty’, launched over a decade ago with a few posters and a ‘tick box’ mechanism to promote discussion.

Dove 'Campaign for real beauty' image

Because the idea was ‘sticky’, it travelled much further than the budget should have allowed. Dove is undeniably a megabrand, but this approach can work for any size of organisation.  So is there an appropriate issue that you can take a stance on this year that might capture public attention?

Celebrate your users

Hardly rocket science, but finding ways to let others tell your story is still really compelling. Aviva did this with the ‘You are the big Picture’ campaign and lots of other organisations know the value of letting supporters do the talking in many different ways. How can you use different voices to evidence the amazing impact your charity is delivering in 2016?

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Do something unexpected to promote your cause

Although no longer functioning, Kids Company was always interested in trying new ways to get its story noticed. The ‘Print Happiness’ campaign saw the creation of a pop-up shop, printing 3D toys for vulnerable children over Christmas. This idea was executed on a shoestring but still got broadcast media coverage, because it harnessed a current idea for a good cause. Is there a current trend, technology, or idea that you can leverage cost-effectively to make your charity stand out this year?

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Keep an eye out for interesting collaborations

Whether it’s a music event with an interesting ‘tickets for donations’ mechanic or a partnership with a media powerbrand like the current GOSH campaign, there might be interesting ways to join forces with other brands or organisations to better tell your charity’s story. Look out for local businesses, brands with similar values to yours or relevant media brands on the look out for new stories… you never know what might turn up if you keep your eyes open for new ways to spread the word.

Screengrab of GOSH/Evening Standard landing page

Personalise your story

Last year JustGiving created personalised videos for all its London marathon runners, to celebrate their amazing achievements.

Screengrab of JustGiving MyStory app

Creating content that your advocates want to share is a great way to get your story in front of potential new supporters. This doesn’t have to be something you do for every fundraiser, but are there any very influential fundraisers in your supporter groups with whom you can collaborate to create amazing stories?

I hope these examples show that you don’t always need big budgets to get noticed – just big ideas, which can come from anyone and anywhere. Whatever you end up doing in 2016, JustGiving will always be looking for ways to help your story go further. Here’s to making 2016 a stellar year.

In 2015 Louise swam 15km of the Thames for FRANK Water.