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Branding or Fundraising? What comes first?

More than ever before, brands are crucial to the success of a business, whether it be a for-profit or a not-for-profit. And in the competitive charity sector that we have now in Australia, your cause needs to differentiate itself from others. You need to stand out. Your brand can help you achieve this.

That’s why charities need to do both fundraising and brand-building activities to flourish. Both elements are equally important for non-profit success, but you can’t fundraise without people knowing who you are, and you can’t build brand awareness without any funds.

Small organisations – whether they are small in terms of the size of their fundraising office or in terms of their annual revenue – have a bigger challenge because they need to spend as much time, if not more, on building brand awareness as well as fundraising. Limited resources often compel these organisations to make a choice between fundraising and brand building activities.

So the BIG question is… what comes first?

Building brand awareness or fundraising? It’s a little like the chicken or the egg question, isn’t it?

Well, perhaps you don’t have to choose between the two priorities. Perhaps you could look at undertaking activities that will simultaneously raise funds and brand awareness. Let’s have a look at two of these possibilities now.

Peer to Peer

This type of fundraising involves empowering individuals and groups to communicate to, and raise funds on your behalf, from their own networks.

Crowd Funding

When the collective effort of individuals financially contributes to a cause, this is known as crowd funding. It works very well with specific, one-off projects and is relatively new in Australia.

Both of these fundraising activities will allow your organisation to build their brand profile with effective social media usage that is essential to your fundraising, attracting potential new supporters and expanding into their networks, and possible media coverage of your campaign (don’t discount local newspapers as good media coverage!).

One such example of an organisation that has successfully used a fundraising activity to help build brand awareness is One Girl and their Do it in a Dress campaign. An organisation that is not even five years old yet, One Girl developed Do it in a Dress, a peer to peer campaign, in 2011 and over the past three years it has grown exponentially. Check out this short video to learn about the campaign:

From 73 participants who raised $43,000 in its first year, to 900 who collectively raised $350,000 in 2013, Do it in a Dress is a fantastic example of using a fundraising activity to help build the brand awareness. Last year, they estimated they reached over 16m ‘eyeballs’ through media coverage, including social media. An amazing achievement for such a small organisation that only 18 months ago still had no paid staff in Australia.

The key take-away here is… don’t forget about branding in your efforts to fundraise. Your brand can effectively be a tool for fundraising in itself!

A strong brand will help your donors (and prospective donors) connect with your cause and feel like they can relate to your mission. It will help them to understand your values and see how they align with their own. And most importantly, a strong brand will ensure your charity is at the forefront of their mind when they make that decision to make a donation.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Note: This blog post was drawn from a presentation The Fish Chick did at the FIA Conference in Melbourne in February this year. For a more detailed look at branding vs fundraising, as a priority, please send us an email and we would be happy to share the presentation itself with you.

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