Here’s nine things charities must do to ensure their relevance in the future: 

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  1. Have a clear vision that everyone from the board down is prepared to stake their reputation on.  If you don’t believe the vision and can’t articulate how you’re going to achieve it – you’re in trouble.
  2. Be able to communicate impact and use an impact reporting framework as an internal monitoring and communication tool. Report using: Input, Output, Outcome, Impact headings and watch what happens. Check out our blog on reporting impact here.
  3. Invest in brand.  Charities are no different from any other organisation with a product to sell – consumers will more readily trust organisations they are familiar with and know something about.  Within a few seconds we will make up our mind about an organisation we want to support – yes, it’s that fast.  If your brand isn’t part of a consumers knowledge set, you’re immediately on the back foot.
  4. Understand the needs of their donors/supporters.  To get the right mind-set charities must think of their fundraising as a product or service. Make no mistake, when someone gives or fundraises there is a value exchange – charities must understand what value their ‘consumers’ receive when they give or fundraise for their organisation.  Read Strategy From The Outside by Day and Moorman for more guidance and check out our ‘Smart Fuel’ paper on Valuism.
  5. Start looking outside the charity industry for inspiration.  Read the book Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim & Mauborgne – charities are all using the same suppliers and the same fundraising strategies with the same consumers.  It’s time to start thinking differently.  Stop competing and start creating new value for consumers.
  6. Stop competing for fundraising dollars. What the Victorian Bushfires, Qld Floods and SE Asian Tsunami taught us is that when there is a compelling case for support, Australians give and they don’t stop giving to other causes.  Be genuine and create compelling cases for support and work together – nothing looks worse in the eyes of supporters than charities competing to help people.
  7. Get good at PR and invest in social media expertise.  Effective marketing is expensive and challenging to target the right audience.  Charities must get out there an engage with the media and get involved with the community through social channels.  More than any for-profit brand, charities have very human, very real stories to tell, they can communicate with emotion and that’s what works in social media.
  8. Be real.  Too often charities think that being professional equals not being emotional.  Research has shown that emotional brand attributes correlate highly with propensity to give.  Be real, tell stories from the heart and you will connect in a powerful way with the community.
  9. Invest in brilliant people.  If you haven’t seen the Dan Pallotta Ted talk then watch it.  It’s powerful and Dan’s right – charities are trying to solve problems that for-profit’s and governments can’t.  To solve these problems requires amazing talent and the outcomes are very often life and death.  Invest in the best, lives depend on it. Check out our post on measuring charity performance for some more insights. 

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