“Today, you have to search for visibility,” says Sana Das, Amnesty’s coordinator for growth, membership and activism. “The whole world has turned into a series of images. If you aren’t represented in that world, it’s possible that people might just pass you by. Even though you might be saying some of the most important things that can be said, no one might hear them.”
“Over the last couple of years, we have seen a lot of criticism of how international NGOs advertise and fundraise. There’s a new term – “poverty porn” – and a new emphasis on thinking seriously about the true impact of advertising.
I’ve heard three main arguments against oversimplified NGO advertising:
1.These ads make donors stupid by convincing them that development problems have quick and easy answers. They also portray development itself as a rapid, simple process. This encourages donors to choose dumb projects that offer speedy, photogenic, solutions that are unlikely to have any real impact. A classic example is the over-funding of orphanages and fishing boats after the 2004 tsunami.
2.NGO marketing demeans the individuals who benefit from aid efforts. It makes them look like passive victims instead of humans who are partners in making things better. In this social media world, these individuals will actually see the advertising that features them. They’ll know exactly how they are being portrayed, and that portrayal will affect their sense of their own capacities.
3.Oversimplified stories about aid and its impact distort government policy on international development, leading to a focus on aid, and a neglect of other policy choices that support development, like fairer trade policy or allowing more immigration. It also leads politicians to expect unreasonably rapid results and again, to favor photogenic, easy-to-explain projects.
Here’s what NGOs have to say about NGO marketing: It works. Complicated narratives and long explanations don’t attract attention, and they don’t get donations. Heartbreaking pictures and tidy stories do. We need these kinds of ads to raise the money to actually do the complicated and difficult work.
But here is my question: Have we reached the point that it’s not worth it anymore?
I think we can safely say that the fundraising for the earthquake in Japan has led to actual outrage among some aid insiders. And last Tuesday, in response to both a demeaning marketing campaign and a simplistic project with doubtful impact, we saw a Day Without Dignity. Are these signs?
How exactly will we know when the money raised is no longer worth the damage done in raising it?”
From Charity Organization to Charity Brand: Qualitative Research into the Importance of Brand Orientation in the Charity Sector
The question this study tries to answer is whether non-profit organizations (such as The Institute for the Blind, the SPCA, etc.) accept the theory, practice and effective implementation of branding, and whether or not they regard it as strategically important to endorse the conversion from charity organization to strong charity brand. An organization that centres around the brand in this way can be described as brand-oriented. “This organization thus recognizes the value of the brand and takes the brand as starting point in all its actions, ranging from communication with all stakeholders to distributing the responsibilities concerning the brand” (Kooiman, 2010).
The study aims to ultimately explore, through the use of exploratory and qualitative research (in-depth interviews, focus groups), the level of brand orientation in specific charity organizations, where brand orientation refers to the extent to which the organization regards itself as a ‘brand.’ Usually, exploratory research provides a greater understanding of a concept and idea, or crystallizes a problem, rather than providing precise measurement of a problem. According to Zikmund (2003:111), “the focus of such qualitative research is not on numbers but on words and observations: stories, visual portrayals, meaningful characterizations, interpretations, and other expressive descriptions.” The research that will be conducted would thus strive to further more explore how a charity organization is perceived by the public and specifically by those consumers wanting to take part in donating practices, and how the strength of the organization’s brand impacts on and influences their donating behaviour. The primary purpose of the study therefore is to determine whether or not the chosen charities, if not already, are able to make the shift from being a charity organization to becoming a competitive charity brand in the non-profit sector.
Research needs to be done to determine the set dimensions which influence the donor choice process between competing charities in the charity sector and thus the role an effective brand-orientated approach plays in this process. Non-profit organizations are usually well defined in terms of their target market or target donor segment, but the question this study would aim to address is whether marketing managers understand donor’s expectations of a strong charity brand and the influence the lack thereof has on their donating behaviour. The Research Report compiled afterwards will therefore serve as a window into the complex and extraordinary world of the non-profit sector, and the major role that brand orientation plays in this sector as a response to this increasingly competitive environment.
Kooiman, N. 2010. The success of ideals [Online]. Available: http://sites.google.com/site/nataschassite/publication [2012, February 16].
Zikmund, W.G. & Babin, B.J. 2008. Exploring Marketing Research. Louisiana: South-Western Cengage Learning.