There is a huge amount of academic research into charity brands – but it is typically carried out with the very largest charities, often the top 10 or 100 by income. Only one published study had looked into branding in small charities – but had not defined what the researchers meant by ‘small’.
Many of the branding studies with large charities, and those with corporates and SMEs, had found strategic benefits to effectively managing brands, reinforced by branding stories in the sector press that also showcase the benefits.
The Branding in Small Charities survey set out to draw up a model of brand management and find out (a) whether small charities (under £1m) were managing their brands and (b) whether they experienced the same benefits of and barriers to branding that have been evidenced in the studies with large charities.
One hundred and thirty-seven charities with annual incomes of £1million or less plus a focus group of eight small charity practitioners took part in the research. Branding in Small Charities investigated whether small charities are managing their brands and, if so, whether they are experiencing the organisational performance benefits evidenced in research with large charities, commercial organisations and SMEs. It also investigated whether who manages brands in small non-profits makes a difference to realising operational advantages.
The end goal was to develop practical Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) for small charity managers and CEOs to help build strong, effective brands.
Branding in Small Charities found that small non-profits are actively managing their brands but that it was necessary to adapt the models of brand management found in the research with other sectors to make them relevant to smaller charities.
From the contributions of the study’s participants, it was possible to draw up models of branding specific to small non-profits and identify the priority IAG required to support staff and volunteer teams within smaller charities to manage brands across the areas studied – brand benefits (measured in outputs and outcomes) and barriers.
Branding in Small Charities also found that small charities where the brand is managed by a team of people across different managerial levels are better able to realise the benefits of branding practices and manage barriers.
What does this mean?
Branding in Small Charities brings the numerous, well-evidenced benefits of brand management identified in better-resourced sectors within the reach of small charities through the models that we developed and the lessons learnt about the most effective ways in which to manage and build strong brands.
Given that the well-established benefits of branding practice in other sectors, include ‘raise more income’, ‘grow supporters’, ‘increase reach’ and ‘develop more sustainable partnerships’, for example, these are very significant strategic advantages.
It is particularly important that these significant operational advantages can be achieved by following straightforward practical models and introducing relatively small changes to managing brands.
Team Hudson is within reach of small charities too.
You can read the results and see all the brand models in the presentation that we gave to the Institute of Fundraising conference in Scotland.
The Small Charity Branding survey – FINALGo Back