Awareness is the first hurdle you need to tackle - whether you’re aiming to increase your donor base, recruit volunteers or create social change. Awareness is king when it comes to raising funds or engagement around your charity’s mission. Awareness is the foundation for great communications, but not an end in itself. To put it simply, awareness is a one-way process where your ‘branding’ talks and everyone else listens. In order to understand how your brand is ‘seen’ you need to listen and hear the feedback. This is where ‘visibility’ comes into play. Visibility, makes the conversation a 2-way process, enabling you to listen and understand how your audiences are responding to the brand and then tailor messaging accordingly.
For this blog, we have looked into the ‘visibility’ metric that we have in our Charity Brand Evaluator and tried to analyse who is doing well in the metric and why.
Let me briefly explain how we measure visibility in our Charity Brand Evaluator research. In order to explore in-depth perceptions about your brand, we only interview the respondents who are aware of your brand and who know more than a little bit about it. The visibility benchmark is made of the following statements; ‘Charity X is an organisation that I hear more and more about these days’ and ‘I’ve had conversations about Charity X recently with friends and family’. We also ask the respondents to rank how often they hear about Charity X, whether through advertising, online or social media or from friends/colleagues.
As of last autumn, three charities that do well on visibility are Macmillan Cancer Support, ssafa, the Armed Forces charity and Age UK.
Here are four ways that different charities have increased their profile and visibility:
- Set standards and be trusted - People tend to not trust brands that they are not aware of and people are not aware of brands that are not visible. So, the more visible you become, the more potential you have to build trust in your brand. Charities become trusted by making clear that they are regulated by the Fundraising Regulator and the Charity Commission (or OSCR in Scotland and CCNI in Northern Ireland). A simple reality is that people tend to talk about, hear about and make noise about the brands that they trust. Macmillan Cancer Support is described as one of the most trusted charities in the Charity Awareness Monitor - it's not a coincidence that they also top the charts for visibility and authority metrics in our Charity Brand Evaluator.
- Communicate as if talking to one person – Instead of reaching out to all your supporter base or your beneficiaries, sometimes making a connection with one person makes a greater impact. Working with individuals and building meaningful relationships with them is likely to have an ‘amplifier’ effect on your brand’s visibility. For example, Instagram is a good way of reaching out to that one person and maximising the impact through tools such as tag partners, hashtags, sharing posts within your story. My local charity, Woodgreen animal charity, asked its’ Instagram followers for their own stories of pet adoption and made a personalised Instagram story with their pet’s name. What makes it great is the fact that people who don’t follow you can also find out about your charity, campaign or cause via the ‘discover’ tab.
- Engage people’s emotions – Emotionally engaging with your audience increases your chances that your charity will stand out and your audiences will recognise your brand and talk about it. Creating brand memories that appeal directly to your audiences’ emotional state, needs, and aspirations will form a memorable connection between your charity and your audience. This connection will enhance trust, visibility and hence word-of-mouth. Take Age UK’s ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’ a campaign that was launched back in 2017. It formed such a strong emotional connection with its audience, helping their key issue ‘loneliness and isolation among older people’ become a relatable cause and, as of November 2019, Age UK brand is perceived as one of the most ‘visible’ brands according to our research.
- Embrace local media and social media – The assumption that media space is only for huge commercial brands or large budgets might put charities off from mingling with the media. However, local media is usually interested in covering charity campaigns or events. Making connections and reaching out to your existing audiences through social or local media is an effective way to increase your visibility, especially when big budgets are out of reach. According to our research, ssafa, the Armed Forces charity has been seen as one of the most visible brands in our benchmark. Having a quick look at their presence with local media networks, ssafa is a charity who are willing to step into the spotlight and gets lots of coverage about a wide range of armed forces relates issues from personal stories about veterans to campaigns to get more volunteers and the services that they provide. To get local media profile it always helps to be a bit bold, or tug on the heartstrings, or tell people’s stories.
The visibility metric that is mentioned in the above blog post is part of our Charity Brand Evaluator. Get in touch via CBE@nfpsynergy.net or download the briefing pack below to find out more.