Step 2 on the Quest to Conquer Research: Revised, more narrowed down version of Research proposal

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Step 2 on the Quest to Conquer Research: Revised, more narrowed down version of Research proposal

Due to very limited time as well as financial resources, it became clear that my initial research proposal, which was more of an exploration and unspecific investigation of the use, implementation and effect of the Institute for the Blind’s ‘brand’ on donor perceptions, behavior and choices, was too broad and maybe a bit idealistic to be successfully executed in this short amount of time we have for this course.  I was advised to rather narrow my study down a lot more which would make it easier and more realistic to execute and to produce relevant results at the end.  I therefore decided to include an “age-dimension” in this brand-orienteted study, which I thought would be extremely interesting to see whether the perception of a NPO’s brand in the media is affected by the difference in age and life stages, and consequently the effect that the latter has on donotions made to the charity.  Separate focus groups interviews will thus be held with two different age groups, one with individuals aged 16-24, the other including only respondents aged 50 and upwards.  The following serves as a revised version of the initial proposal:  

From Charity Organization to Charity Brand:  An exploratory (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 local media texts and the effect this perception of the brand has on the donating practices and choices of two age-related differing groups of potential donors.

 INTRODUCTION

Over the last 50 years, the commercial sector has developed and built brands as a means of differentiation in an increasingly competitive environment. The charity sector, on the other hand, is becoming similarly competitive as consumers demand transparency and clear information about the added value of the charities.  Kooiman (2010) argues that, in recent years, “there has been a tremendous growth in the charity sector. This growth is reflected in a huge increase in number and in competition, but also within the charities themselves, through developments in their brand thinking.” Some charity organisations are turning to charity brand status, not only in terms of a name, slogan and logo, but more importantly in terms of communicating value and meaning to their stakeholders and donors. Charity organizations are increasingly realizing that they should professionalize their conduct in order to continue their existence.  The Institute for the Blind (the specific NPO chosen for this research study) is a non-profit organization based in Worcester which is over 130 years old. Their mission is “To empower persons who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind, including visually impaired persons with additional disabilities by means of education, training, development and care towards a fulfilled life and complete citizenship” (Institute for the Blind, 2011).  The question this study aims to answer is whether non-profit organisations such as the above mentioned, 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 centers around the brand in this way can be described as “brand oriented”. For the purpose of this study, exploratory research needs to be done to determine whether (and how much) or not age plays a role in the donating behaviour and donor choice  process in terms of the representation and strength of the charity’s ‘brand’ in the media.  A non-profit organization such as The Institute for the Blind is well defined in terms of their target market or target donor segment, but the primary question this study will try to answer is how the organization’s ‘brand’ in the media is perceived by two different age groups in diverse life stages, and how the Institute can use these findings or insights to appeal to and target more segments in its quest for donations.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The purpose when undertaking this study is to conceptualise and explore, through qualitative exploratory research (focus groups and in-depth interviews), what the effect and perceptions regarding the use of the Institute for the Blind’s ‘brand’ in media texts (print, video, audio) are of two different age groups of potential donors.  Thus, the effect of the existence and strength or non-existence of this brand- orientated approach and its use in the media will be evaluated and interpreted according to the differences in age of the two groups.  Depending on the results and insights born from this study, recommendations can be made to assist the Institute in using its branding strategies and brand identity to appeal to a wider donor segment.

OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH AND PROPOSITION

The overall objective is 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 two different age groups. This overall objective can be broken down into three main objectives. The primary objective is to determine the level of brand orientation implemented by The Institute for the Blind in media texts. The secondary objective is to verify whether or not donors are influenced by the strength and efficiency of a charity’s brand identity. The tertiary objective is 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 audience in different life stages.  Due to the subjectivity and qualitative nature of this study, the following proposition can be drawn: The use of a brand-orientated approach in the media by non-profit organizations has an effect on the perceptions and donor behaviour of different age groups in different life stages, which consequently influences the donor choice processes of these groups. The dependant variable in this study is donor behaviour while the independent variables (other than age) can be said to be factors such as donor’s financial resources, religion, race, culture, access to information concerning charities, time constraints, as well as the position, power or strength of the charity’s ‘brand’ in the mind of the donor.

METHODOLOGY

A qualitative approach to address the research problem will be used in this study.  The specific research methodology that will be conducted is of an exploratory nature. Exploratory research (specifically in this case, audience research) is not intended to provide conclusive evidence, and further research needs to be done to determine a particular course of action (Zikmund and Babin, 2008). Exploratory research is thus used to gain new insights and understandings regarding the complex world of non-profit organizations using a brand-orientated approach in their operations and consequently its effect on the potential donating behaviour and choices of different age groups.  The research methods that will be utilised in this study are in-depth and focus-group interviews. According to Deacon et al (1999: 55), “focus-group research is becoming an ever more popular qualitative research method within communication and cultural studies…(and) one of the most popular means for analysing media audiences.” This research technique is appropriate because it is relatively easy to execute, relatively fast, provides multiple perspectives, produces rich qualitative material suited for interpretation, and is relatively flexible. The interviews will contribute to the existing knowledge of the charity industry as a whole as well as the donating experience; and more importantly new insights regarding the role that age and different life stages play in the choices made when donating will be born.

For the purpose of this study, non- probability sampling will be used. The latter sample selection is based on the personal judgement of the researcher or convenience of the sample selection. Thus, the probability of a member in the population being selected for the purpose of this study is unknown. In this specific study judgement sampling will be mainly used where the researcher will purposively select the sample units. Experts in the charity field and employees of the Institute will be consulted to assist with the judgement selection of the respondents. The reason for selecting a focus group for this study is supported by Zikmund (2003: 117) for “the focus group interview has become so popular that many research agencies consider it to be the ‘only’ exploratory research tool.  Two focus group sessions will be held with a total of 6 to 8 respondents in the group selection. One group will contain respondents aged 40-50, whereas the other group will consist of a selection of 16-24 year-olds.  The focus groups will be held in Worcester and will be of an informal and relaxed nature. A convenient location, most probably at the head-quarters of The Institute for the Blind, will be provided where the focus group sessions and interviews will take place. The discussion will be based on the use of a schedule of questions, and the interviewer will facilitate the group discussion by actively encouraging group members to interact with each other.  The interviewer will expose different forms of media texts (TV commercial, radio interviews, newspaper clippings, brochures) in which the Institute’s ‘brand’ has featured and is used. The discussions with the two different groups will be recorded using an audio recorder, after which the data will be transcribed, and then analysed using conventional techniques for qualitative data, most probably thematic analysis. The findings will be used as building blocks for concluding arguments concerning the proposition made.

Primary and Secondary research

Published books and journals, such as the Marketing Research Reader, the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Journal of Business Research International Journal of Management Reviews, International Journal of Voluntary and Non-profit Organizations, Journal of Voluntary Action Research, will be consulted to gather additional information.  Professionals and experts working in the charity sector (specifically managers and selected employees of The Institute for the Blind) will be consulted for further knowledge of the industry and the organization itself. The University of Cape Town Library database will be used to further gather additional secondary research material. Furthermore, internet sources will also be consulted as a tool to gain information and insights regarding the subject.  The primary research (assembled specifically for the project at hand) that will be undertaken in this study is of a qualitative nature; thus subjective, and “leaves much of the measurement process to the discretion of the researcher” (Zikmund 2003:132).

 

REFERENCES

Deacon, D.; Pickering, M.; Golding, P. & Murdock,G. Researching Communications: a Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. London: Arnold.

 

Kooiman, N. 2010. The succes of ideals [Online]. Available: http://sites.google.comlsite/nataschassite/publication [2012, February 14].

 

The Institute for the Blind. 2011. [Online]. Available: http:Ilwww.blind-institute.org.zal [2012, February 15].

 

Zikmund, W.G. & Babin, B.J. 2008. Exploring Marketing Research. Louisiana: SouthWestern Cengage Learning.

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“So, what’s the brand of your Mask?” – a more Philosophical angle, providing this commercial and theoretical concept with some, uhm, ’emotional depth’.. -by Mia du Bois

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“So, what’s the brand of your Mask?” – a more Philosophical angle, providing this commercial and theoretical concept with some, uhm, ’emotional depth’.. -by Mia du Bois

 

“So, what’s the brand of your mask?” 

 

We live in a truly plastic world.  A world where you are judged according to the brand of the mask you wear every day to hide The True You from the rest of the world.  We are trained like soldiers, commanded like puppets since the day we first saw the light of this earth to keep facing the world through the masks we were born with, the costumes we are forced to wear.  We raise our glasses in pretentious delight for a toast with people we hardly know to celebrate the fact that we have so far succeeded in living a life facing the world with the right branded mask – without once looking away from the crowd to take a breath of the uncontaminated air surrounding your fabricated smile.  Like marionettes on a string, we mechanically meet people in public places, wearing our most expensive mask, branded by our favourite designer to take part in conversations and formulate sentences we believe others want to hear.  We choose the brand of our mask, the designs and materials, the price of the labels according to the season, the latest trends and tendencies – to impress those who are in any case too focussed on keeping up their own disguise to care about ours.  

 

In their fabricated world, they went on their first date.   As he usually does, he asked her to tell him about herself.

She did not say the following.

 

Who am I? Some days I’m funny, others I’m not. I live, I love, I laugh, I cry. What you see is only half of what I am.  I have the ability to manufacture a hundred different faces, only a part of me is what I’ll show you now.   You see, my hands are tied to these plastic cups, I am glued to this artificial chair and my designer mask is glistering so brightly in the sunlight that it keeps you from noticing the loneliness in my eyes. I choose to display a fraction of my true self.  As I am sitting here, staring hesitantly into your dark eyes peeping through the holes in your Armani mask, I am telling you with a slight smile- This is not the truth of me.  You don’t know me.  You never will. Because I am an expert in choosing my mask:  never allowing you to peek too far behind it… for then you’ll perhaps catch a glimpse of the Made in China print on the inside of my Prada facade.  I will raise this plastic cup and produce a phoney laugh with you, leaning back against my stool while loosening my chemically bleached hair, only wishing to shout at you in silence from within:    “If you don’t like my words, don’t listen. If you don’t like my appearance, don’t look. If you don’t like my actions, turn your head.  For In a world where I can supposedly be anything… I’m dying behind this damn mask just to be myself…” 

But he said, nice mask, and she was content. 

Interesting article on NPO branding: All NPOs should be using social media. Well, maybe..

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Interesting article on NPO branding: All NPOs should be using social media. Well, maybe..

 13 September 2011-  “Social media is not the “˜next big thing’, it’s right now’s big thing. But, NPOs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should be doing it. At the risk of sounding like a social media cynic, Gina de Villiers, Tshikululu’s senior communications specialist, explains.

Social networking has been received by non-profit organisations with much excitement – as we are regularly reminded, signup is free, they allow for a simple or complex web presence, and open up a world of communication with fellow NPOs, potential donors, and like-minded citizens.

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the many alternative social media sites have indeed altered the way in which NPOs network with the people that matter to them. For several organisations and causes, this new, immediate, global interaction has been fundamental to the way they now conduct fundraising and awareness campaigns.

But for most NPOs, setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter feed does not mean that your very worthy organisation will achieve international reach, policy-changing levels of conversation, or the funding that one would assume naturally follows.

I’ll go as far as to say that for some idea-rich but resource-poor organisations, social networking should not be a priority at all. If you’re answering “˜no’ to these questions, I’m talking to you:

Have you invested in an appropriate anti-virus product, is your hardware in good repair, your software updated, and your data regularly backed-up? Protection of your digital information is vitally important for maintaining the historical record of your organisation, the privacy of sensitive documents, and the integrity of your computer systems. In addition, it’s more efficient to use machines that work as they should.

Is your database as clean as it can be? If your networking and fundraising contact lists are riddled with outdated and inaccurate entries, your communication efforts will not yield results, no matter what medium you use.

Are your staff members computer literate? Anyone responsible for using a computer for any task, let alone communicating outside your organisation, should receive proper training. Not only does this prevent inappropriate communiqu̩s Рbe they letters, emails or tweets Рreaching important contacts, developing your staff in this way is good for your organisation and their careers.

Do your contacts use social networks? There is obviously value in using social networking tools in an attempt to grow your list of contacts, but if your already-established network is best reached via email or telephone, consider carefully whether your organisation’s time is not better spent developing the relationships you have, rather than those you do not. If you answered “˜I don’t know’ to this question, find out!

Does your organisation have a skilled, passionate resource to dedicate to your social network? It may be free to sign up to Facebook, Twitter, or whichever site you prefer, but after that comes a cost in (possibly) training, and (definitely) time. Social networks take lots of time to establish, grow, maintain and direct. As exciting as social networking really is, it is in your organisation’s best interest to question whether your resource’s time may not be better spent on another task.

If you answered “˜yes’ to these questions, I have both good and bad news. The good news is that social networking may well be a communication tool that starts a conversation between your organisation and new supporters. The bad news is that right now is not the right time to leap on to Facebook. Not just yet. There is still work to be done – a purpose for your communication to identify, and a social networking strategy to develop. We’ll talk about that in a future article.”

http://www.tshikululu.org.za/all-npos-should-be-using-social-media-well-maybe/

Ready. Set. RESEARCH: The road towards finding THAT (almost) perfect Research Question

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Ready. Set. RESEARCH:  The road towards finding THAT (almost) perfect Research Question

After a lot of thought, a few long nights in front of the computer, many cups of coffee accompanied by a bit of soul-searching in deciding where it is that my interest lies, I found the trace of an answer to my quest right under my nose.  Growing up in an environment where the disabled (the visually impaired) has always been a part of your everyday life, you kind of develop a special understanding and extraordinary compassion for the handicapped…The compassion felt towards the latter has never been born out of pity or a sense of shame, but rather as a result of a great deal of respect, empathy, benevolence…but the greatest of these being- admiration.   I remember being confronted with blindness and making peace with the role it would play in my life since, well, for as long as my memory allows me to recall it.  For example, the mere fact that my mother had to miss my first birthday party due to some or other crises at work with a blind student at the Institute, serves as one of the earliest memories I possess of the impact the latter would have on my life (at that stage being 2 years long).  My mother, the closest thing to an Angel that has ever walked this earth and who has been changing the lives of, not only the visually impaired, but every person who is privileged enough to cross paths with her, has been an employee as a career developer at the Institute for the Blind for over 20 years.   In Primary school, when the mothers of other children my age where deciding on what to wear to Tuesday’s book club, my mom was probably taking a 30 year-old blind Nigerian student to dip his toes in the ocean for the first time in his life, or busy pleading to some company’s HR manager to employ one of her disabled students – consequently changing their lives forever.  These were the stories I was fortunate enough to be confronted with on a daily basis, slowly but surely not only becoming used to, but growing into a certain understanding of what the pitch dark world of the blind looked like. 

With this special interest in and fondness for the Institute for the Blind (a Non-profit organization which is totally dependant on the generosity and good-heartedness of the community) I stumbled across the idea of making the Non-profit sector the basis and core of my research, and with this study ultimately exploring the complex world of this sector.  With my background in marketing, and with a profound liking in the area of Branding, my first inkling was to do my research on a combination of these two areas, with a specific focus on the Institute for the Blind as a worthy NGO.   And this is where the idea was born. 

The following serves as first research proposal for my study, with the title being the following-

From Charity Organization to Charity Brand:  Exploratory research into the importance of Brand Orientation in the Charity Sector with a specific focus on the Institute for the Blind in Worcester

1.INTRODUCTION 

Over the last 50 years, the commercial sector has developed and built brands as a means of differentiation in an increasingly competitive environment. The charity sector, on the other hand, is becoming similarly competitive as consumers demand transparency and clear information about the added value of the charities.  Kooiman (2010) argues that, in recent years, “there has been a tremendous growth in the charity sector. This growth is reflected in a huge increase in number and in competition, but also within the charities themselves, through developments in their brand thinking.” Some charity organisations are turning to charity brand status, not only in terms of a name, slogan and logo, but more importantly in terms of communicating value and meaning to their stakeholders and donors. Charity organizations are increasingly realizing that they should professionalize their conduct in order to continue their existence. According to Hankinson (2001:207), research suggests that in the mid-nineties charities were “under-using one of their most powerful assests: their brands” and that they needed to clarify their branding to stakeholders as well as the public.  Hankinson continues to argue that consumer research suggests a need for strong brands to facilitate the donor choice process.

The term ‘brand orientation’ in the charity sector that will be focussed upon in this study refers to the extent to which charity organisations, such as The Institute for the Blind, regard themselves as “brands”. The Institute for the Blind is a non-profit organization which is over 130 years old. Their mission is “To empower persons who are blind, partially sighted or deafblind, including visually impaired persons with additional disabilities by means of education, training, development and care towards a fulfilled life and complete citizenship” (Institute for the Blind, 2011).  The question this study aims to answer is whether non-profit organisations such as the above mentioned, 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 centers around the brand in this way can be described as brand oriented. “This organization 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).  Research needs to be done to determine the set dimensions which influence the donor choice process between competing charities in the charity sector and the role an effective brand-orientated approach plays in this process. A non-profit organization such as The Institute for the Blind is well defined in terms of their target market or target donor segment, but the question this study aims 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 following research proposal serves as a blueprint of the research being conducted in this study.

2. PROBLEM STATEMENT

The purpose when undertaking this study is to conceptualise and explore, through qualitative research, the importance and impact (if any) of a brand-orientated approach in a non-profit organization such as The Institute for the Blind on donor behavior. Furthermore the effect of the existence or non-existence of a brand- orientated approach by the latter on the donor choice process will be evaluated.

3. OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH

The overall objective is to explore the increasing importance of a brand-orientated approach by charity organizations, and what the impact of brand-orientation is on donor numbers. This overall objective can be broken down into three main objectives. The primary objective is to determine the level of brand orientation implemented by The Institute for the Blind. The secondary objective is to verify whether or not donors are influenced by the strength and efficiency of a charity’s brand identity. The tertiary objective is to identify whether the Institute for the Blind is making the best use of their current ‘brand’.

4. PROPOSITION

Due to the subjectivity and qualitative nature of this study, the following proposition can be drawn: The use of a brand-orientated approach by non-profit organizations has an effect on donor behaviour and consequently influences the donor choice process. The dependant variable in this study is donor behaviour while the independent variables can be said to be factors such as donor’s age, financial resources, religion, race, culture, access to information concerning charities, time constraints, as well as the position or power of the charity’s ‘brand’ in the mind of the donor.

5. METHODOLOGY

 Exploratory research can be described as being “open-ended in nature, helps you define a specific problem, and usually involves detailed, unstructured interviews in which lengthy answers are solicited from a small group of respondents” (Researching Your Market, 2011). The specific research method that is conducted in this study is of an exploratory nature. Exploratory research is not intended to provide conclusive evidence, and further research needs to be done to determine a particular course of action (Zikmund and Babin, 2008). Exploratory research is used to gain new insights and understanding regarding non-profit organizations using a brand-orientated marketing approach and its effect on donor behaviour.

5.1 Secondary research

Published books and journals, such as the Marketing Research Reader, the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Journal of Business Research International Journal of Management Reviews, International Journal of Voluntary and Non-profit Organizations, Journal of Voluntary Action Research, will be consulted to gather additional information.  Professionals and experts working in the charity sector (specifically managers and selected employees of The Institute for the Blind) will be consulted for further knowledge of the industry and the organization itself. The University of Cape Town Library database will be used to further gather additional secondary research material. Furthermore, internet sources will also be consulted as a tool to gain information and insights regarding the subject.

5.2 Primary research

As defined by Zigmund and Babin (2008) primary research is regarded as research that does not make use of numerical measures, but focuses on discovering true inner meanings and insights. The primary research that will be undertaken in this study is of a qualitative nature. Qualitative marketing research is subjective in nature, and “it leaves much of the measurement process to the discretion of the researcher.” (Zikmund 2003:132) According to Zikmund (2003: 63), primary data are gathered and assembled specifically for the project at hand.

5.2.1 Research method

The research method that will be utilised in this study is focus-group and in-depth interviews. According to Deacon et al (1999: 55), “focus-group research is becoming an ever more popular qualitative research method within communication and cultural studies…(and) one of the most popular means for analysing media audiences.” This research technique is appropriate because it is relatively easy to execute, relatively fast, provides multiple perspectives, produces rich qualitative material suited for interpretation, is a flexible method and it has a high degree of security. The interviews will contribute to the existing knowledge of the charity industry as a whole as well as the donating experience; and more importantly new insights will be born. As a result of these new insights the objectives of this study will be realised.

5.2.2 Sampling technique

For the purpose of this study, non- probability sampling will be used. The latter sample selection is based on the personal judgement of the researcher or convenience of the sample selection. Thus, the probability of a member in the population being selected for the purpose of this study is unknown. In this specific study judgement sampling will be mainly used where the researcher will purposively select the sample units. Experts in the charity marketing field will be consulted to assist with the judgement selection of the respondents. Due to the nature of this study a sampling frame is not used.

5.2.3 Sample size

A focus group session will be held with a total of ten to twelve respondents in the group selection. A focus group interview can be described as an unstructured, freeflowing interview with a small group of people (Zikmund, 2003:117). The reason for selecting a focus group in this study is also supported by Zikmund (2003: 117) for “the focus group interview has become so popular that many research agencies consider it to be the ‘only’ exploratory research tool.  A focus group can also be said to be best managed when there are no more than ten respondents, for “Qualitative research tends to use comparatively small samples which are generated more informally…”(Deacon et al, 1999:43).

5.3 Fieldwork

The focus group will be held in Worcester and will be of an informal and relaxed nature. A convenient location, most probably at the head-quarters of The Institute for the Blind, will be provided where the focus group session will be held. During the interviews the interviewer will lead the interview and make use of specific pre-determined questions to gather information. A tape recorder will also be used for the duration of the interviews for thorough interpretation later on. After the interview the interviewer will ask the respondents to rate a few factors of charity brand-orientation on a most to least importance scale. This rating will not be used as a formal means of measure, but rather to enhance and address the objectives of the research.

5.4 Data analysis

After the focus groups have been conducted the data will be interpreted and analysed by the researcher, and conclusions will ultimately be drawn from the information obtained. The findings will be used as building blocks for concluding arguments concerning the proposition made.

6. REFERENCES

Hankinson, P. 2001. Brand orientation in charity organizations: Qualitative research into key charity sectors. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntaiy Sector Marketing, 5(3): 207-219.

Zikmund, W.G. 2003. Business Research Methods. South-Western: Thomson.

Kooiman, N. 2010. The succes of ideals [Online]. Available:

http://sites.google.comlsite/nataschassite/publication [201 1, August 14].

The Institute for the Blind. 2011. [Online]. Available: http:Ilwww.blind-institute.org.zal [2011, August 131.

Researching Your Market. 2011. [Online]. Available:

http://www.entrepreneur.comlmarketing/marketingbasicslmarketingplanlarticle43O24. ht ml [2011, August 14].

Zikmund, W.G. & Babin, B.J. 2008. Exploring Marketing Research. Louisiana: SouthWestern Cengage Learning.

Deacon, D.; Pickering, M.; Golding, P. & Murdock,G. Researching Communications: a Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. London: Arnold.

NGO advertising: visibility counts – Creating a strong charity brand is the key to survival..

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NGO advertising: visibility counts – Creating a strong charity brand is the key to survival..

“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.”

Has NGO advertising gone too far? A peek into the birth of “Poverty Porn” – by Blogger Alanna Shaikh

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Has NGO advertising gone too far? A peek into the birth of “Poverty Porn” – by Blogger Alanna Shaikh

“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?”

–  Alanna is a global health professional who blogs at UN Dispatch and Blood and Milk.

 

 

 

My Research Blog- The Quest to Conquer: The extraordinary Journey of one MA Media-student to miraculously Pass the Advanced Media Methodology Course

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   Post 1:   Short reflection on Research Topic

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.  

 

Sources: 

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.