The 3 Most Important Factors for Not-Profit Organisations. Part 1: Branding.

The first part in a series on marketing for not-for-profit organisations by SORT South Bank Hub participant Allan John.

Australian not-for-profits (NFP) and charities work hard year after year helping the vulnerable and the deprived in the society. In fact, up until the Second World War, it was the not-profit groups that provided most of the social services in Australia and not the government. This sector has since grown to great lengths in both size and diversity.

According to Australian Charities Report 2014 charities have combined total income of over $103 billion, however, only the largest 5% of the charities receive 80% of this sector’s income. The rest of the 95% of the NFPs have to slog it out to keep the monies and resources flowing to continue running smoothly.

If your NFP/ Charity falls under the 95% bracket and seeking better ways to raise awareness, increase donations, reach out to more people and see consistent growth this year then keep the following factors in mind and get a head start in 2016.

1. BRANDING – Why Branding matters?

Branding is often misused/ confused with marketing. In a nutshell, marketing helps in discovering audience and spreading your message. Branding attracts loyal patrons and supporters for your cause through education, inspiration and producing emotions.  In any case, NFPs should be doing both.

There is more to branding than just creating a logo and a brand name. It’s the perception that your audience has about you in-person, on paper or online when all the marketing is said and done. This means everything from the delivery of your services, interaction with donors, office space, signature, printed materials, website and social media.

People relate to stories which is why it is very important to use story telling as a way to spread the power of your messages. Make sure it’s consistent across all media, print or digital. Differentiation is equal to funds. It’s the only way to keep yourself above your competition and also, be in the minds of your audience. Consider the example of McDonalds and the big golden ‘M’ sign which people from any age can recall. They do a great job at creating stories which are consistent across all channels (print or online) under their brand and differentiate themselves as cheaper but quality eating joint as compared to their competition.

Smart Branding Strategy for Not-For-Profit Organisations

Here’s some smart branding tips which will positively impacts your public image, audience engagement, fundraising efforts and also forge new and existing relationships.

  • Segregate Yourself: It’s easy to differentiate yourself if you are a lone sailor but, chances are you could be facing competition. Emphasise on special approach to problem solving, specific processes that only you incorporate that are different than others and any particular area/ region you work in.

One example of a non-profit with a unique approach to a problem is APOPO, an international organization solving humanitarian problems like tuberculosis and landmines. What sets them apart is that they train rats to detect landmines and tuberculosis infections.

  • Relatability Counts: Make sure the stories on your website are relatable to your potential donor. It could be talking about the people that your charity will be helping. For example, a story about a homeless man/ woman but also explaining how they are father/ mother who lost their jobs due to jobs cuts. Such details could help in connecting to your potential audience emotionally too. 

Another example to emotional appeal could be your supporters might relate emotionally to the victims sadness during a situation or natural disaster.


  • Think out of the Box Campaign: The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and received huge public attention towards an illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that wasn’t receiving much donations. The ALS Foundation promoted the idea, and in October announced an initial contribution of $21.7 million to expedite research to find treatments and a cure for the disease.

Think about fun and interesting activities to engage people for your NFP. You never know it could be the next viral internet sensation.