Tag Archives: Salvation Army

Trust in charitable brands

Rhodes croppedBy Stephen Rhodes

The big not- for- profit brands in our country have built a trust among their followers and supporters. The biggest brands, YMCA, Salvation Army and United Way have strong social capital.

I have manned a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas time and watched people fill it with money, and many without knowing precisely what the Sally Anne does in our community. Trust is powerful stuff. Trust is something most commercial brands would kill for. Of course, you have to earn it.

I was thinking about the challenges these organizations face in a slow economy and I had a chance recently to chat with fellow Rotarian David Fitzpatrick, chair of board of the Kitchener Waterloo United Way.

rainbow_logo_horizontalDave happened to mention that his board had adopted a more strategic approach to meeting its community obligations.  United Way is shifting from being an organization that waits for fundraising results to determine what needs can be met, to becoming an organization that first identifies the most pressing issues in the community, and then mobilizes the necessary resources to meet these needs.

Chief among the Kitchener-Waterloo  priorities:

  • Children and Youth reach their Potential
  • Families are Stronger
  • Neighbourhoods are Inclusive and Thriving
  • Newcomers are Welcomed and Supported
  • People are Economically Secure

It’s not surprising that community needs have grown beyond what the annual  campaign can raise. With the focus on building long-term change that meets local priorities, and investing where United Way can  have the greatest results in their community, the emphasis is placed on strategic goals and not annual fundraising results. Fundraising in fact becomes a longer term campaign over 3 years or even 5 years.

From a marketing perspective, it provides a set of priorities around which the community can rally, less reliant on one year’s campaign goal, particularly important in tough times.


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Filed under Branding, not-for-profit, social capital, Stephen Rhodes

Building social capital for non-profits

By Stephen Rhodes

Non-profit organizations need to build social capital to ensure a long life.

Social capital is about creating value for your community. Moreover, the community has to agree you bring value.

sally-annMany non-profit groups work in a cocoon, where internal comfort and support provide validation. Often managed by a volunteer board, there is great personal social capital from contributing in a meaningful way to a good cause.  Too often non-profits stop there; satisfied that they have a cadre of good people doing good things for their organization, when they really need to engage the whole community in the same way.

The Salvation Army has great social capital. Typically they have strong community support because most of us  believe the Army does great things for our community, probably without really knowing what it is they do.

Some years ago the local Sally Ann contingent dared to dream about the possibility of everyone in our city  contributing a loonie to the Christmas kettle campaign, which in effect would raise $400,000. Reasoning that not everyone could contribute, they thought if half the population would “Toss a Toonie” they would meet their target.  In the first year they raised $230,000.

The community  was mobilized- service clubs, churches, the city and a brigade of volunteers. Why? Because the community at large believes the Army provides a benefit to the citizens of our city. They have social capital. They are about community.

Other not-for-profit organizations need to learn this simple lesson. Build social capital – create that feeling of reciprocity between the community and your organization and you will be successful. The community needs to know who you are and why you make a difference.

Social capital to a non-profit organization is like market share to a business. Without it, you don’t succeed.

What organizations do you believe have great social capital?

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Filed under No-for-Profit, not-for-profit, social media, Stephen Rhodes