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Should charities stop competing for funds and collaborate for greater impact? Anthea Iva, Director of Redstone Marketing, asks three fundraisers for their perspectives.

Anthea Iva, Director of Redstone Marketing, asks three fundraisers for their perspectives.

Paige Gibbs

Head of Marketing and Fundraising, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

A few years ago, I was working for a charity that spent considerable time developing community fundraising guidelines that addressed the most common challenges of sharing your brand with a third party. They provided the organisation with peace of mind that their highly visible, iconic brand could not be compromised by being treated like a library book to be hired out to anyone with the right paperwork.

The guidelines were working well. And then we received a call from a journalist. He asked if we knew of a fundraiser selling merchandise in a tourist destination. The man’s name was unfamiliar but it turned out he was a convicted paedophile who had obtained a fundraising authority using his birth name, rather than the alias by which he was commonly known.

Some seriously bad press ensued, prompting the organisation to tighten community fundraising guidelines dramatically. Every potential community fundraiser had to agree to a police check. Fundraising plummeted as people found it too arduous to jump through the hoops required to get permission for a bake sale or a sausage sizzle.

This example might be extreme, but it caused the charity involved to review its guidelines and impose rules that effectively closed down what can be a profitable revenue stream. So how do you protect your brand and still allow individuals to ‘borrow’ it to raise funds on your behalf?

The answer is with enthusiastic caution. Long gone are the days where your brand is sacred. You only have to do a Google search to find downloadable assets allowing anyone who can cut and paste the means to borrow your brand at the click of a button.

Community fundraisers can be remarkable. Many are loyal, holding numerous third-party events each year in the name of your cause. But others can be challenging and flaunt your guidelines. Your best defence against brand hijacking is to develop strong relationships with your community fundraisers so they become brand ambassadors and not brand saboteurs. By understanding their motivations to fundraise for your organisation, you can help to steer their passion towards initiatives that support and amplify your brand rather than do it damage.

A community fundraising process should not only contain a fundraising kit that inspires, it should also provide details around the fundraiser’s legal responsibilities in respect of fraud and the importance of following your state’s fundraising collection guidelines.

I believe the best way to monitor your brand is to ensure that your fundraiser respects it as much as you do. If you build a strong relationship and develop a level of trust that promotes open communication, you will hear any warning bells. Staying in touch needn’t be arduous. Schedule a few progress calls    and ask to view marketing materials if you feel that your fundraiser is not supporting your brand well. Finally, don’t hold back on the praise when a community fundraiser champions your brand. The more cheerleaders on the field, the louder they cheer for the cause.

Postscript: Having reviewed numerous community fundraising kits in preparing this article, it seems that none of them had a police check as a prerequisite and several did not ask to cite a form of ID.


Lisa Kastaniotis

Head of Strategy, Cancer Council Victoria

An organisation’s brand underpins what we do and who we are. When managed well, it inspires the market to think or feel and, ultimately, to act. In this light, brand and fundraising have similar purposes. Yet it’s not uncommon for a charity’s brand team and fundraising team to find themselves dealing with conflicting priorities.

Indeed, the question posed implies that community fundraising somehow puts our brand at risk.

At Cancer Council Victoria, we rely heavily on community-based fundraising. These include high profile campaigns such as Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea and Relay For Life, as well as individually initiated fundraising efforts that we largely manage through our I Will for Cancer brand. Our acquisition strategy focuses on driving the community to register their fundraising efforts through these initiatives, so we can support our fundraisers to maximise their fundraising potential. It also means that we are able to provide them with assets and messaging that are in line with our brand guidelines.

But even with the availability of these fundraising channels, people still use their own initiative and creativity to raise funds for our cause, without us being involved in any way.

Our fundraisers, regardless of how they engage with us, have a very personal reason for choosing to raise funds for our cause. Our brand represents something important to them. Community fundraisers in particular often do extraordinary things in our name.

At its core, brand is not what we think we represent but rather, what we mean to other people. If we think too much in terms of brand control, then the brand becomes something separate, and the reason behind having a strong brand – to make people feel, then act – becomes lost. Brand monitoring and protection needs to be focused on risk management. Does it matter that there are posters all over Echuca promoting a trivia night with incorrect logos and the wrong shade of yellow? Sure, if we saw them before they were printed we could make corrections but any interference after the fact only negates the positive goodwill and enthusiasm the community has for our cause. Serious brand control and monitoring should be reserved for high profile partnerships and agreements where other parties stand to benefit by being associated with our brand values. Equally, any fundraising activities that clearly contradict the brand values should rightfully be shut down.

When managed correctly, a strong brand inspires action. And what better way to galvanise this momentum than through community fundraising. Surely as fundraisers we want to inspire and empower our communities to be the embodiment of our brand?


Bianca Di Fede

Community Fundraising Manager, Multiple Sclerosis Ltd

When we trust our supporters to raise funds for us, we also trust them with our brand. I have observed   that most fundraisers are very respectful of this responsibility, particularly when the importance of the brand is stated in early discussions about fundraising.

I have found that one of the most effective tools for protecting our brand is to provide fundraisers with useful assets and resources that they can use to effectively promote their fundraising, ask for support and showcase the brand at their event or activity. This is a combination of digital downloads (which can be edited to some extent without changing the brand look and feel) and physical resources to display branding.

For fundrasiers who wish to design their own creative, we offer a ‘proudly supporting’ logo in a range of formats along with brand guidelines. We do request approval of creative assets using the logo, but this has been positively received by our supporter base. We believe this is due to prompt feedback and approval.

Our Do It For MS community fundraising portal houses these assets, which are freely available to registered fundraisers when logged in but not downloadable by the general public – an extra step toward protecting the brand.

We are fortunate that our fundraisers are proud of the MS brand and love to feature red in event themes and dress codes. When we see great examples showcasing the brand, we get permission to share them with other fundraisers and offer them as examples to assist future supporters.

Monitoring use of our brand certainly presents a challenge, but it has become easier with social media. Most fundraisers promote their event or activity on social media and like to tag the charity and use campaign hashtags. We love to see MS fundraisers tagging us in their posts and using #DoItForMS. This is a great way to see how our brand is being employed and it’s helpful to get ideas for more creative assets and resources that our fundraisers can use to promote their events!

Of course, there are always a handful of cases where we will never know exactly what is being shared across private networks, especially for less widely promoted events or activities. In these instances, we hope that a combination of education about brand importance, support with useful assets and great fundraising relationship management will protect the MS brand.

If branding can be made simple for fundraisers, rather than appearing to be a barrier to their fundraising or support, then most are happy to get on board. After all, fundraisers want to achieve the best possible outcomes for the charity they support, and this includes respecting the importance of appropriately representing the brand. Those portrayals that are outside the guidelines are usually very well meaning and, in my experience, most fundraisers aren’t too offended at being steered back on the right track!


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