It’s the end of SMALL CHARITIES WEEK! So in celebration, I thought I’d focus this week’s blog post on all of you. Here’s to all the small charities out there, working super hard, with limited resources yet creating massive impact for their chosen cause.
A recent report from Lloyd's Bank Foundation said that small charities are 'distinctive in who they serve, what they do and how they work.' I couldn't agree more. Yet 84% of government funding goes to bigger charities. Seems unfair, right? There are any number of reasons but brand recognition undoubtedly plays its part. If you’re small, then it’s unlikely that many people have heard of you. And if that’s the case, how will they know you’re out there looking for funds and support? Building a clear and strong brand can really help the world see exactly who you are. And it doesn’t need to cost loads of money. All it takes is time, focus and maybe a little bit of outside help if you’re struggling.
So here are 5 big brand tips for small charities:
Nail your purpose
You know why you exist. You know what you’re in the world to do. But have you written it down? And are you living by it? Are you using it as a filter in everything you do? Are you sure that you’ve articulated it a way that really captures why you’re special? If you say that your purpose is to support, achieve positive outcomes or even transform lives, I have bad news for you. You’re not alone. That’s the job of most charities. So you’re going to need to try again. If you need help, have a look at this blog post.
2. Be bold
You’re small, you’re flexible and this is a BRILLIANT advantage when it comes to innovation. So don’t be afraid to try new things because it will help you stand out. You’re the ones that should be challenging convention. So if there’s an accepted way of describing your cause, say it differently. If you don’t agree with what the leading big charity is saying, disagree! Make your branding big, bright and bold. Now is not the time to be a wallflower. Use your purpose as your filter to stay authentic (this is not about controversy for the sake of it) but make sure that everything you do stands out.
3. Be consistent
To build your brand, people need to see it. A lot. They need to be reminded of who you are and what you stand for again and again. You might start getting bored and want to change things up, but unless it’s really not working for you, keep your messaging and brand really consistent. It builds trust and if you say the same thing consistently, other people might just start saying for you. This doesn’t just apply to messaging or visuals. Your behaviour needs to live up to your brand. If you’re saying one thing and doing something else, people will see right through it.
4. Use your values as criteria for who to work with
When we’re small, it’s tempting to take any help that comes your way. Work with everyone and anyone who will give us time, funds or additional resources. But you’re small. There are only a few of you (or maybe even one of you). Who you bring into your organisation will have a huge impact. So make sure that everyone you bring in – volunteer, partner, funder or staff – shares your values and is passionate about your purpose.
5. Get help – but the right help
When you’re small, it’s really tempting to try and do everything yourself to save money. But it may take you ages to do something that an expert would deliver easily, brilliantly and add real value in the process. So play to your strengths and understand where you’ll need help. Then find the right people to help. Be clear on your problem and what you’re looking for. Get credentials and talk to past clients or customers – don’t just rely on testimonials and reviews. And don’t think that free means free. There is ALWAYS a cost, even if someone says pro bono. Your ability to say what you actually want versus accepting what’s given. The time it takes because your job is queued behind paying work. The cost of your time in managing the project or chasing up constantly because someone’s got too busy to make time for you. The effort and resource (as well as money) in actually making the idea happen. It’s your call, but it might be worth paying something, even if it’s just expenses and a thank you. It will allow you more ownership (and you’ll probably value it more).