23rd April 2015

No One Has Ever Become Poor By Giving - Anne Frank

By Martin Skeet

5 reasons why working with Charities is the most rewarding (and the hardest) work you will ever do

Working with charities on communication or branding programs is always a unique experience and one we have had a lot of experience in at Small Back Room.

We enjoy it because whilst we follow a similar process of exploration and processes the journey is always very different. Charities are deeply personal organizations and building brand identities that articulate and reflect the personal endeavours of many is a particular difficult and rewarding challenge.

Here are our top five reasons why we like working with charities.

1. Engaging with people is never a problem

It is normally hard to engage with stakeholders across a corporate organization. Asking the question ‘Why do you come to work everyday” in a corporate environment is most likely to elicit an embarrassed shuffling in the chair when people desperately think of something positive to say. Ask that in a charity environment and you better have a very large flipchart handy and a lot of space on your voice recorder. No one is shy in coming forward and everybody’s opinion offers useful insight.

2. The figurehead is a real person

Corporate organizations have powerful figure heads but they are mostly not the people who started the organization. There are notable exceptions like Mr Branson, but for us the joy is in sitting down with the person who said one day “There needs to be a charity for this” and then shortly after that “I am going to start one”. We all talk about respecting a brand’s past but when you sit in the room with a founder you know you share a very deep duty of care to get the work you do right and to carry on their legacy into the future.

3. It's very personal

Charities exist on the goodwill of many: volunteers, donors, staff, sponsors behind all of those interactions is a personal link to the charity – a very real reason as to why those people are involved. Making a case for change that stands up in front of all of these disparate stakeholders is a challenge – no half hearted thinking will get through but only the ability to explain why the answer is right (no matter if it is challenging) will take people along with you. Standing up and saying trust me is in itself very a very personal approach that is often missing in the corporate world.

4. It's about making a difference and never indifference

Charities operate in an increasingly corporate and crowded space. They need to improve their standout, recognition and fund their growth. It is easy when working with large corporates to feel a little detached from the change you will make as it will be subtle and possibly slow (rather like turning a supertanker). With charities the brand design change will get noticed, make a difference and will not be met with indifference!

5. Small budgets make your thinking bigger 

Charities wont have the budgets they really need. But the smaller budget won’t bring smaller expectations – quite the reverse in fact. It quickly becomes about thinking clever and gaining maximum result for minimum spend. A nice example of this is our recent work for Rainbow Trust where we built a story telling device into the logotype. Now, even if they just use their logo in a partner publication they can say something and build their brand identity at the same time.