Merge or pivot: defining a future direction for your not-for-profit

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A wave of panic rippled across not-for-profit organisations big and small last week when the CCA (Community Council for Australia) declared that hundreds of Australian charities should merge or disappear because of our increasingly  saturated charity industry.

A week later, we’re seeing news that one of Australia’s strongest charities, World Vision, will be losing 89 staff in order to survive the struggles they are facing in a changing charity market. On the surface, things look dire for Not for Profits – but it doesn’t necessarily spell the end.

Charities exist to make a difference, and if they can make a greater impact by combining forces, it’s a smart decision. But that doesn’t mean lots of NFPs won’t survive on their own. It just means that with an average of nine new charities being registered in Australia per day, each must be able to clearly articulate their unique values, mission and personality to their distinct audience, lest they be forgotten amongst a sea of sameness.

Rather than panic, this is the perfect opportunity to review how your brand is currently being activated through your marketing and communications program: are there strategies you could be implementing to generate fresh interest and attention? Here are five actions you can take to rejuvenate, reinforce or redefine your NFP’s value.  

1. Review or renew your mission

Why does your NFP exist in the first place? Look at your founding  vision and ask if this is still your truth. Dig down into the tangible objectives and actions by which you continue to achieve it. Successfully realising a vision also depends on the ability to clearly articulate it. Do you have a clear narrative; an easy way to explain what you do and why you do it? Chances are, if you’re not clear about your mission, your audience won’t be either.

2. Re-appraise your competitive edge

Identify your nearest competitors and ask yourself why Australians might choose to contribute to your charity over another? If you can’t find anything that is genuinely unique to your organisation, it may be time to consider your options; develop new partnerships, create new value propositions or service delivery outcomes.  

3. Map your ideal user journeys

Without supporters, donors, advocates and volunteers, charities can’t exist. That’s why your NFP needs a clear, documented User Engagement Strategy.

Start by identifying who your audiences are – and don’t make assumptions. At ntegrity, we use a range of research techniques, data analysis and online listening tools to get a clear picture of who is really engaging with your messages. Next, map out their fears, frustrations, needs and desires to uncover any areas that are being underserviced. Finally, build a nuanced, realistic, accessible and irresistible journey for users to follow through towards the the ultimate actions you hope for them to take.

4. Reinvigorate your identity

It’s important to tailor your communications towards your audience’s change of stages, drivers, language and habits. When you have a clear picture of who your audience is, you can then redeploy your marketing efforts towards recapturing their attention with new activities and conversation streams that can restore top of mind awareness from your latent follower base.

5. Transform your organisation’s culture

A successful brand also hinges on the culture that creates it – because they’re the ones who maintain it and uphold its integrity. Ensure that your organisation understands each of the elements above: your vision, values, identity and audience. Ask yourself: are there things you could be doing to encourage collaboration? Are you actively building a growth culture? Do you have the traits of an innovative NFP? All of these things are key to success.

If you’re looking to uncover your organisation’s unique brand identity, we’d love to help!  Get in touch to find out more about our branding and transformation services for NFPs.

Originally published on Probono News Australia.

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