Monthly Archives: May 2012

The End Of A Research Journey, but a Warm Welcome to the Institute’s Future Branding Strategies

The End Of A Research Journey, but a Warm Welcome to the Institute’s Future Branding Strategies


The study explored the level of Brand Orientation in the Institute for the Blind as a charity organization where brand orientation was defined as the extent to which an organization regarded itself as a brand with branding forming the basis of all operational activities.  Against a background of an increasingly complex and competitive environment in which non-profit organizations such as the Institute must survive these days, the research conducted demonstrates a clear and fundamental need for stronger brand development and orientation in the charity sector than ever before.  Hankinson (2000: 217) concludes in her study with some valuable insights as she argues that the central concept of the branding process in the charity sector was considered ‘’to represent a collection of perceptions, more complex than a product brand, more trusted than a corporate brand but only partially understood.’’

The overall objective was to explore the increasing importance of a brand-orientated approach by charity organizations, and what the effect of brand-orientation is on the donor behaviour of a group of young people. This overall objective was broken down into three main objectives. The primary objective was to determine the level of brand orientation implemented by The Institute for the Blind in media texts, specifically an audio-visual television programme.  The secondary objective was to verify whether or not young donors are influenced by the strength and efficiency of a charity’s brand identity. The tertiary objective was to identify whether the Institute for the Blind is making the best use of their current ‘brand’ in the media to appeal to a wide range of audiences in different life stages, specifically the younger more brand conscious generation.  It was found after the research was conducted and results analysed that the Institute for the Blind is currently not making the best strategic use of its brand, that their branding strategies are not focussed on attracting a younger donor audience and that, for the organization to become a stronger competitor in both the charity and even commercial sector (competing for consumers resources – money, time and attention), it needs to start taking the steps towards becoming a Brand Orientated organization, and most importantly with their brand personality and brand values also conforming to the needs and preferences of the younger generation of potential donors. 

A lack of understanding in terms of the concept of branding and of what a brand orientated organization looks like was identified through previous informal interviews and conversations with employees of the Institute.  Furthermore, the management and control of the Institute’s ‘brand’ are not as strong and constricted as it should be, thus creating a gap in the entire organization’s desire to operate according to a brand culture.   Aaker (1991: 271) suggested that a successful brand should possess name awareness and this is defined as “the ability of a potential buyer to recognize or recall that a brand is a member of a certain product or service category”.  In the context of this study though, it was also determined through responses provided by the two groups of young people that a major part of the Institute’s brand, namely it’s logo, does not convey a clear and thorough enough message regarding the purpose and “service category” of what the Institute stands for to be recognized as a powerful charity brand.  Ultimately, it became clear that donors are aware of many organizations in this sector, but will ultimately choose to donate money, time and resources only to those charities with a strong, efficient, reliable and credible brand image.

Finally, one can conclude that through this study, the proposition which was formulated at the beginning of the study, namely that the use of a brand-orientated approach in the media by non-profit organizations has an effect on the perceptions and donor behaviour of a younger generation audience, which consequently influences the donor choice processes of these potential donors, can therefore be accepted.


Putting the ‘Focus’ in FOCUS groups: What an experience!

Putting the ‘Focus’ in FOCUS groups: What an experience!

FOCUS GROUP 1                                                   DATE:            16/05/12

                                                                                 TIME:             12:00

PLACE:         Pneukleus Gap-year Academy, Somerset West

Number of Participants/ subjects:  8

Title: Charity Organization to charity brand-  Qualitative research into the importance of brand orientation in the charity sector


  1. Welcome – Introduction and short background on researcher
  2. Short summary on what study is about, their role in the research (assist the Institute in attracting a younger donor market  through successful use of brand management – thus need their input for this to be possible
  3. Please write name, age, previous donating experience on paper, will stay anon.
  4. Sign inform consent form
  5. Inform subjects that whole session will be tape-recorded and transcribed for research purposes


1.   Broader definition Questions:  Brands, branding, ‘brand-speak’


  • Defining the term ‘brand’:  How would you define the term in your own words and according to your own personal experience?
  • What do you understand under the concept of a ‘brand’ and ‘branding’?
  • How important would you regard an organization’s ‘brand’ to be today if it wants to survive in a competitive market environment?
  • In the commercial sector, how often do you choose to spend money on a branded product rather than an unbranded or ‘No Name’ one?
  • Do you feel the whole concept of branding are more important to your generation than to, lets say your parents? WHY?
  • For you, what are the most important elements a brand should have in order for you to either buy it or be interested in it. What should it have for you to stand out, to be recognized



–       what or which charity organizations (either international or local) are you most familiar with / know the most about (eg. WWF, Red cross, SPCA,)

–       Why these charities? What do you think are the reasons you know about them or are familiar with their practices?

–       How do you feel about charities which depends on the generosity and donations of others that spends money on Marketing or ‘branding’? do you feel its unethical or necessary for its survival?

–       As a young person, what do you want to know about a specific charity before you would consider to donate either time or money? what attracts you the most?

–       The institute for the Blind does not have any donors or donations made by people under the age of 40.  What do you think are the main reasons why donating to charities are reserved for ‘older people’? why do most charities greatly target the older generation for funds and volunteering?

–       What would you like to see a charity do or implement for you and your generation to actually think about donating? what are they lacking to make it easier for young people to donate in general?

2.   Specific application questions: Institute for the Blind in the Media (Kwela DVD)

–       As a young person, how did you experience the clip? Did it speak to you, did it capture your attention?

–       After watching the promotional dvd, what would you say does the institute for the blind stand for? For you, what are the main characteristics it portrays?


–       After striving to define the term ‘brand’, to what extent do you consider the organization to be a ‘charity brand’?

–       To what extent would you say does the organization have a certain ‘brand personality / image’? what is this personality?

–       Would you say this specific ‘image’ / personality appeals to your age group and generation which will convince them to donate money or time to the institute?

–       When you saw the logo (blue man walking with cane) of the Institute on the clip, did you immediately connect it with the Institute, did you recognize the logo at all after visiting the Institute earlier this year?

–           SHOW LOGO – do you feel that the logo has the characteristics of a striking brand image? How do you feel when you see the logo- is it strong enough?  do you think its an effective logo? what kind of logo’s do young       people find more ‘cool’ / attractive?

–       After exploring and visiting the Institute’s recently opened ‘Fossil Trail’ – do you think that defines and assists the Institute’s ‘brand’ at all?

–       Will this new branch of the institute attract a younger audience / donor segment?

  • After watching the clip, would you run to donate your pocket money to the Institute?  If not, what could they have done differently or more effectively to appeal more to YOU?
  • Do you feel that the organization’s ‘brand’ communicates a ‘limited picture’ and clear message of the organization’s mission / vision and what it stands for?
  • Do you feel that the organization would greatly benefit from a re-branding campaign with a definite and clear ‘brand’ at the center of the organization is created if the resources were available?  
  • Most crucial and fastest starting point at this moment in the organization to successfully move away from simply being a charity organization to becoming a charity brand to attract a younger donor base?

Any questions or recommendations to the Institute to help them build their brand?

Thank you for your time and effort!

Mia du Bois

082 9229 104

Donor Generations: Shedding some light on the way various generations of donors engage in charitable giving

Donor Generations: Shedding some light on the way various generations of donors engage in charitable giving

Joanne Fritz (, 2010), states in an interesting article on the subject of Charitable Giving by different Generations, (which ultimately serves as the core of my pilot study for this course), that in a recent study done by Convio, Edge Research, and Sea Change Strategies, considerable light is shed on the way various generations of donors actually engage in charitable giving.

“The study points out that while the majority of fundraising is targeted to, and meant to attract, mature donors (those born before 1945), that segment is rapidly shrinking. So how should fundraisers reach the next wave of donors while continuing to derive the most possible in gifts from the Matures?

The fact is that Matures still give the largest gifts, even as their generation decreases in numbers, while younger donors, from Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) to Generations X (1965-1980) and Y (1981-1991), must be encouraged to fill the ranks. The problem is that the same methods that appeal to Matures don’t always work with younger donors.”   

..Some slight changes to research question! FINAL Research Proposal: submitted 2/5/12


 From Charity Organization to Charity Brand: 

An exploratory (reception/audience research) study into the importance of Brand Orientation in the Charity Sector, with a specific focus on the use and representation of the Institute for the Blind’s ‘brand’ in media texts and the effect this perception of the brand has on the donating practices of a group of potential young donors.