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For charities, commercial is good

22 April 2013

‘The idea of commercialising charities is something that can trigger a collective gasp among sector stalwarts, says GEORGE AMES. ‘But money doesn’t have to be a dirty subject. Without funds to operate effectively, an organisation can achieve no good – and nobody gains from that.’

Although it is commonly accepted that, for a charity to effectively compete for its position in the market, it needs to be run in a business-like way, commercial development and not-for-profit organisations aren’t traditionally thought about in the same equation. But times are changing. They need to. Forster believes that, while it is vital for charities to stay true to their values and mission, they shouldn’t shy away from diversifying and commercialising their income streams to ensure they stay secure while delivering vital services and information to their beneficiaries.

With public coffers limited and tightly controlled, we’re seeing an ever increasing move towards the individual being in charge of their care and service acquisition. Local Authority and Government funding cannot be relied on in the same way as in previous years. Charities increasingly need to sell their products and services direct – both to business and consumers.

Forster is working with clients to help them to ‘commercialise the social’ to ensure a positive solution for all – a clear marketing strategy and financial security for the organisation and continued support and service provision for beneficiaries. Sometimes, this is about packaging and positioning a particular offer, such as specialised training for professionals, and other times it is the communications strategy, PR and supporting assets to promote a service directly to consumers. The specifics of the task are tailored to the needs, and business plan, of the charity in question.

Like all organisations, NGOs, charities, and community interest companies need to adapt to the challenges and opportunities that arise from changes in today’s landscape/environment. At Forster, we believe in the importance of a re-invigorated, robust not-for-profit sector. We understand the challenges the voluntary sector faces. We use our extensive sector experience, knowledge and networks to help leading NGOs and non-profits transform their performance.

We aim to help them address changes related to how they deliver their services, generate income, evolve their brands, or work effectively across teams in order to better fulfil their social and environmental mission. How? By…

  • creating campaign platforms that underscore positioning and deliver business objectives
  • developing new positioning strategies, supported by communication framework
  • creating strategies to transform the scale and impact of corporate partnerships
  • helping organisations articulate and embed their values, principles and ethics — demonstrating these through partnerships and other relationships
  • planning and delivering product and brand development programmes
  • undertaking product and brand valuation to maximise the value clients secure from their assets
  • challenging, mentoring, providing senior counsel and supporting change-agents (trustees, leadership teams, project owners, campaigners and others) and teams to enhance their performance and effectiveness.

Ultimately, clients in this ‘sector’ must use their limited resources to achieve maximum impact. And that’s something we’ve long understood at Forster.

If this is something that you’re interested in finding out more about, we’d love to hear from you: