• Paula Alionyte

How to make your small international charity stand out from the crowd

With so many small charities in the UK, sometimes it feels nearly impossible to get your message out there and to attract any kind of attention from the public.

The answer really is that we need to work harder on making ourselves stand out from the crowd. I am not saying you need to compete with other small charities for supporters - I never saw the charity world as that of fierce competition. It is simply about presenting yourself in such a way that you attract the people who share the same values and truly believe in your story.

To do that, you need to develop a strong brand identity, have a clear and well-defined message and voice, and learn to confidently express your values in everyday work.

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Seth Godin

Make your brand stand out

Not every charity has an understanding of how to build a strong brand but I am sure that most people understand the fundamental principles of it:

  1. Choose a set of colours that represent your charity and use them consistently.

  2. Choose a couple of images that represent your charity and use them consistently.

  3. Choose a set of values your charity represents and follow them consistently.

Once you have that, you can start working on your graphics to create beautiful content for your audiences.

I first learnt about Canva in a conference about digital fundraising a couple of years ago. Today, I am the biggest fan. I went from a no designer to a fairly good one! Canva is a free design tool that allows you to create high impact documents, thank you cards, proposals, banner, social media posts or anything else of this nature on the platform. They have a whole suite of elements, photos, frames and, most importantly, templates to guide your creativity.

Now the exciting bit: they provide free premium features to charities, all you need to do is apply on their website. The premium features include a lot more elements and photos, as well as GIF. and .MP4 formats for your graphic.

It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling. Khalil Gibran

Make your storytelling stand out

Charities that are unable to tell their stories won't get far, that's a fact. In this digital age, with bursting amounts of information on every corner, unless you make the reader interested in what you're saying, they will quickly jump on to the next thing.

It's not about hiring expensive producers to make you lots of impeccable videos. It's about learning how to tell your story in real-time, make it genuine and heartfelt, and make it easy for the reader to "digest".

Share updates on your work on a regular basis, be in on social media networks or through your website blog. Make your stories present people as empowered individuals with dignity, and in a respectful manner.

I personally think every international charity should abide by The Dochas Code of Conduct on Images and Messages, the principles of which are:

  • Respect for the dignity of the people concerned;Belief in the equality of all people;

  • Acceptance of the need to promote fairness, solidarity, and justice.

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy E. Disney

Make your values stand out

Yes, I mentioned values in the bit about building your brand but who doesn't love talking about values?! Not every charity feels like they should or want or even can make bold statements every day. Having said that, charities who do strongly state who they are and how they work make me love them that one bit more.

So if you think your work is important, it's effective and it's changing people's lives, then tell everyone about it. If you think the way in which you do certain things in your charity is unique, innovative or more sustainable than you have seen others do, then why not talk about it? Your goal is to do more of the best work you can do and if you think your work is incredible, tell everyone (don't forget to tell them why)!

You will need to shout to be heard but if you truly believe in what you do, then you shouldn't really have any problem in doing so!

If you wish to discuss any of this in more detail, please write to me anytime at paula@fairdevelopment.co.uk