How charities can offer real value in a world gone grim

Ben Brill By Ben Brill

“What’s the value exchange here?”

It’s a question that’s cropping up a lot at the moment – and one that every charity worth its salt should be asking.

The old model is fraying. Dopamine donations – click the red button, make the problem go away – have become a fundraising mainstay.

It’s understandable – need makes money, after all.

But when supporters get nothing much in return, it’s no surprise that they’re feeling frustrated.

They’re right to expect more - but working out what we actually give them is a tough nut to crack.

Choose product?

Unlike many of the other brands that have become part of the fabric of our society, people don’t really come to charities for products. We sell something less tangible.

It means it’s that much harder for us to become part of people’s everyday lives.

Some charities are finding routes into new markets with things like Mindful Monsters, the Choose Love t-shirt range or the Waterless Bottle.

And when a product can help a brand tell their story, you’ve got something exciting on your hands.

But it’s only part of the answer.

The power of connection

We need to remember the thing that makes our brands special: we tell real stories – and they inspire real emotions.

When we get it right, these stories can make people feel connected – and make them feel, not just the pain of suffering, but hope and joy as well.

In a world where people are feeling ever more isolated and disillusioned, that’s priceless.

But here’s the irony: while energy drink brands are telling long-form stories and mortgage brokers are mastering memes, too many charities are lagging behind.

We need to keep looking for creative ways to harness the power of our stories.

We need to move on from the knackered narratives we’ve been peddling for decades.

We need to connect people to stories that are relevant to where they’re at right now, rather than where we think they should be.

Once we do all this, we’ll start building relationships with real value.

Ben Brill

Ben Brill

Creative Director

Ben came to us from Save the Children, where he was the creative powerhouse behind some of their best-known campaigns. Our story and strategy-led work brought him agency side, and he’s consistently wowed clients with impressive conceptual work. Read more about Ben on our blog.