'In too many charities the brand is an object of vanity', says report

23 Jul 2019 News

Branding is too often "an object of vanity" and not used to support charities' fundraising objectives, according to a report published today. 

The report from The Philanthropy Centre also says that branding provides relatively low levels of predicted income compared to investment in fundraising.

Great Fundraising and Brands: Help or Hindrance was released today, and says that investing in branding has a relatively modest impact on fundraising success, whereas investing in fundraising can be clearly linked to better results. 

'Brand is an object of vanity’

Professor Adrian Sargeant, chief executive officer at The Philanthropy Centre, said: “In too many non-profits the brand is an object of vanity. 

“It attracts hugely more attention from a board because it’s perceived to be strategic and consequential for the organisation’s reputation. 

“Fundraising by contrast lacks the glamour afforded by the brand and can be perceived by a board as a purely tactical pursuit; a necessary evil that can be conducted by others. 

“Our work shows the folly of this approach. 

“Or at least the folly if the goal is to raise massively more income to make an organisation’s vision a reality.”

Branding can make a charity ‘fundraisable’

The report says brands can make an organisation “fundraisable” during the creation of a brand strategy by ensuring that all employees and departments have a cohesive and consistent idea of the charity’s goals.

Brand strategy could also be helpful for fundraisers to better understand the purpose of the organisation and use it affectively in fundraising. 

The research found that strong fundraising brands were likely to focus on “purpose, proposition, personality and passion”, and these were consistent with the stimulation of “brand love”.

Learning from the commercial sector about how to develop brand love could also be important for charities.

Financial data from 30 charities

The research was commissioned by ACA Philanthropy and Fundraising and involved quantitative analysis of the accounts of 30 leading charities from over ten years

The report is also based on interviews and qualitative study that identified how brands are managed in organisations with high levels of fundraising growth.


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