Brand Building Tips for the Small Charity

In Canada there are over 86,000 registered charities. 80% of these charities are considered small with operating budgets under $500,000 annually and almost 40% of them have 1-5 employees. If you’re like most executives leading a small charity you grapple with the need to increase the brand awareness and the financial pressure of operating, specifically how these challenges relate to any level of annual investment in brand marketing.

Here are 8 tips to help you build your charity’s brand:

  1. Model your annual budget in a 3-year scenario aligned with a multi-year marketing plan. Planning annually and executing annually misses the opportunities that lie ahead in your organization, community, new technologies, media channels or brand awareness levels. Set three-year goals and stay focused on them over time.
  2. Create an integrated marketing plan that balances traditional activity and digital strategies. One beautiful thing about our digital rich and technology accelerated world is that it’s accessible to everyone and there are a number of free or low-cost effective tools out there to your advantage.
  3. Be resourceful. Making some level of spend on your marketing is inevitable, however there are lots of free tools available at no cost. By also looking at how other brands are built in the private and public sectors you can generate low cost ideas.
  4. Assign all employees the shared role of brand ambassador and set aside a few hours each week to support the execution of the integrated marketing plan. Leverage your full team of staff and key volunteers, especially individuals knowledgeable in digital and social media platforms.
  5. Build an emotional connection. Use existing stories and testimonials to connect people with the work your charity is doing every day. In today’s world the public responds better to stories and the impact they communicate more so than statistical information. Stories can be shared across channels thru your website, You Tube video, blogs, Tweets, Instagrams and Facebook news items.
  6. Listen to your stakeholders and respond in a way that reinforces the relationship with the cause and their needs. Using Twitter surveys, Survey Monkey or other on-line survey tools can support the full engagement and collaboration with stakeholders and the public to build your brand. Digital analytic data can be very helpful and found through Hootsuite, Google and individual platforms.
  7. Focus on the quality of the relationship ahead of conversions. It’s less important to have high numbers of followers on social media than to have highly engaged people. It’s similar to a party – they are more fun when everyone is talking rather than a crowd not socializing.
  8. Deliver on your promises. This includes the quality of your program or service, communication updates and engaging audiences consistently. Consider your organization’s brand promise like a promise to a friend – not to be broken.

A cautionary closing note – Pick a few good strategies and work hard at them rather than attempting to manage too many social media channels, websites and marketing activities. You can always build on your success along the way. Enjoy!

If after reading this article you decided that it was helpful, please share it with your network and/or reply with a comment below. Perhaps we can all learn from each other. Thanks!

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