NFPs, pro bono work and the brand of giving

Now more than ever, writes Jaid Hulsbosch, giving is to be promoted and embraced by marketing and creative professionals.

Australians are among the biggest givers to charity in the world.

The sector has expanded rapidly in the last 20 years, integrating with industries and organisations that give back to the community. Creative agencies as well have had an increasing role to play in the sector.

The journey of the not-for-profit (NFP) enterprise is evolving and agencies contribute in substantial ways to more often than not, an under-resourced brand-marketing program.

In many cases getting the NFP message out to the broader community starts with a passionate leader that supports cornerstone communication and education.

Former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard was recently appointed as the next chair of Beyondblue’s Board of Directors, taking over from Jeff Kennett’s 17 years of service, which commenced on day one of the group.

Gillard will guide Beyondblue’s next chapter and it could find itself part of an increasing trend in the sector that calls on design and branding to leverage its heritage and strengthen their brand for the future.

Today, NFP organisations have mainstream marketing interests and we are hearing a lot about the wealth of work created by brand and design agencies working with their pro bono clients.

Agencies offer their expertise to these organisations and it provides a chance for them to have a voice and a profile amongst the din of marketing chatter. It also delivers the agency a sense of purpose and fulfilment, a sound return on their investment.

Beyondblue’s purpose has market-ready alignment, saying it will adopt a “community heart and a business head” to achieve its goals.

Charities are not immune to the same business challenges that their larger corporate cousins tackle. While corporations chase customers and profits, there is a meaningful and complex negotiation for fund raising dollars from a network of corporations, philanthropists, partners, and also a piece of the federal or state funding pie.

Like any other client, Hulsbosch works with pro bono clients to deliver on their business objectives and allows our designers to provide a deliberate contribution to the success of an organisation whose mission it is to help others in need.

In fact, some would say that working with a pro bono client is a designer’s dream. To cite an example, one of Australia’s most-recognised cancer groups, the McGrath Foundation recently embarked on their first brand review in 10 years. This led to an overhaul of the brand across their  highly diverse fund-raising events and campaigns including core work to amplify the position of ‘support the support’.

It is interesting to note however, that some NFP clients have had concerns that having too professional an image will send the wrong message, suggesting that they may not need government financial assistance, perhaps leading them to approve sub-standard work.

There is nothing to gain by either party adopting this position.

Pro bono work should receive the same intensity of creative expression and be driven by the same processes as those enjoyed by any other client.