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If you’ve got it, flaunt it

22 May 2013

In March this year, NVCO commissioned a survey of charity professionals asking them about the financial prospects for the sector and their charity specifically (http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/charity-forecast-survey). 90 per cent of respondents expect a tougher economic environment for charities in the next 12 months and more than half feel the financial position for their organisation will get worse over the same period.

Whatever way you paint it, the financial picture looks pretty grim. With external conditions like that, it’s time to make the absolute most of what you have already got. Many not for profit organisations are chock full of elements and qualities of real value that in many cases they are not fully exploiting. Commercialising your social value is one way to fight back in straitened times.

Here’s a simple exercise to kick things off. Consider your organisation’s assets against the following list:

  • Product or service
  • Expertise
  • Heritage
  • Reach and access
  • Specialism
  • Innovation
  • Experience
  • Insight
  • Reputation
  • Passion
  • Opinion

If you can put a tick against any of these then you have something to “sell” in the broadest sense of that term, i.e. you can use that asset to help persuade an individual or organisation to think, feel or do something advantageous to your organisation or to support a specific objective.

The last two items on that list are often the ones overlooked. I delivered a workshop on marketing to around 40 charities at the Directory of Social Change’s May Fayre recently. I did a spot poll to find out how many of those organisations were using passion and opinion as assets for marketing their organisations and a very small number of hands went up. I’ve worked for and with voluntary organisations for 20 years and the two things none of them have ever been short on are passion or opinion.

It is definitely worth using those assets to help raise profile and engage with key audiences. The general public like these connection points and you may be surprised by the number of potential funders who would welcome it as well.