Published: 24 July 2013

Can good brand management benefit small charities?

Good brand management not only helps your charity stand out from the crowd, but also delivers benefits such as more supporters, an increase in income and stronger partnerships. All of which are critical in tough times.

Academic research has drawn conclusions about what good brand management means, including a very noticeable consensus that brands need to evolve in order to stay relevant. Some researchers argue that non-profit organisations need to go through several branding evolutions because their purpose to bring about social change requires them to be around for some time; it cannot be achieved overnight.

We looked at nearly 100 research papers and drew up a brand management continuum. It sets out brand management activities that will support maintaining your brand’s position, making changes to strengthen its relevance to beneficiaries and stakeholders, through to disassociating previous connections, and completely revolutionising your brand.

However, there is a problem with the research into non-profit branding – it ignores the vast majority of the voluntary sector.

The current branding research has almost exclusively been carried out with large charities. Only one published paper specifically looks at branding in small charities. So while many of the studies are convincingly conclusive in their findings, they have only looked at branding for one or two percent of the voluntary sector.

This got us thinking. Would it be possible to take the applications of good brand management found in large charities and the benefits that brings, and remodel them so that small charities could see similar benefits?

We’ve been carrying out a study open to small charities with annual incomes of £1 million or less a year – the non-profit organisations that make up 97.2% of the sector according to NCVO’s 2012 Almanac.

If you work for or with a small charity there is still time to contribute to the study and get a free copy of the resulting branding guide.

Please have your say and follow on #SmallCharityBrandSurvey @RedPencil_

CharityComms Brand development conference on 24 October will show how your brand can help drive your charity forward, whatever its size.


Natasha Roe, founding director, Red Pencil

Natasha has worked with charities of all sizes, including small charities and start-ups, on building cost-effective brands without big budgets. She’s currently underpinning her 20 years’ practical experience by completing a Charity Effectiveness MSc at Cass Business School.