This exclusive guide is part of DrawHistory's monthly 'Amplify the Good' series. Our series focuses on the power of branding and what it can mean for niche social good organisations. This particular resource dives into an often overlooked group of the community sector, community legal centres, and offers a number of tools community legal centres can leverage to attract additional resources.
- Part 1 - Branding for the 21st Century Community Legal Centre | By Mara Papavassiliou & Jeffrey Effendi, on exploring a core CLC purpose
- Part 2 - Coming 19 June 2017
- Part 3 - Coming 10 July 2017
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are essential components of Australia’s legal system. For thousands of people and organisations in need, they're a symbol of justice and the legal profession’s expression that everyone deserves a fair go when navigating through complex legal waters. Providing free or reduced cost legal assistance, CLCs still carry the same social justice spirit that motivated their founding members. Not unlike many social good organisations in Australia, CLCs are too important for our community to lose. But the Federal Government’s wavering support for CLCs has recently made things a little complicated - compelling them to tread uncharted funding waters. The Federal Government spends about $330 million on legal aid annually (0.015% of the gross domestic product). By way of perspective, the below image gives a good indication as to what the Government's current priorities are.1
In 1997, the Federal Government spent $11.22 per capita on legal aid. Today, we are heading toward less than $8 per capita. That's almost a 30% decrease.
Why do I need to adapt as a CLC?
In the 21st century, we deeply believe it’s more important than ever CLCs understand the significance that branding and communication play in getting the word out and driving sustainable impact, slowly moving away from sole grant dependence and thinking more like an enterprise. In the past decade, two factors have dramatically changed the communications and fundraising landscape for nonprofits:
- It's more challenging than ever to reach people as a nonprofit, let alone a CLC.
- Governments are increasingly reducing community initiatives of their funding.
How is branding supposed to help me?
In years past, people thought of rebranding as just a logo change. Today, people understand we’re really talking about changing perceptions and growing reputations. In fact, over the past ten years, nonprofits have made significant changes in how they communicate, particularly online. Branding ultimately helps clarify your messaging to stakeholders that translate to tangible impact. Don't take our word for it, Stanford University's Social Innovation Review said so.
If you need the numbers to convince you that branding isn't just for corporates, here's a small sample size that illustrates this. The findings from a well-known New York agency survey completed by 351 nonprofit decision-makers from across the United States in 2014 show a clear link between rebranding and fundraising.2
Organisations that made communications changes experienced many positive outcomes, including improved fundraising, donor retention, and recruitment. They saw a 14% jump in revenue, 23% in staff's confidence to communicate the nonprofit, 26% in media attention and 18% in sponsorships after undergoing a comprehensive rebrand. In a changing landscape, we've continuously encouraged our clients to think less like a conventional nonprofit to more like an innovative enterprise.
DrawHistory has developed this guide to help CLCs become better storytellers and more effective organisations in the 21st century.
Tip #1: Finding my signature story
So, if a CLC is supposed to adapt and communicate by stories, how do we do it?
The good news is learning to ‘tell your story’ isn't more complicated than sending a handful of spreadsheets and reports to a government department - it's just a different science. The most liked brands capitalise on shared values with their stakeholder, and as a CLC, your story writes itself. You just need to learn how to tell that story in a way that's authentic and effective for each stakeholder.
CLCs were first formed in Australia in the heat of the lawyer activism of the 1970s. They had aspirations of social justice and were pioneers of a new kind of lawyer-client relationship. This vision permeated every aspect of their organisation and advertising and guided every decision they made. Everyone knew what CLCs were. Everyone knew what CLCs represented. But today, many people don’t know exactly what it is that makes CLCs so important. Some may have heard what it is a CLC does, or how they do it, but people have frequently mistaken CLCs for advocacy groups without understanding why they exist.
Using the Golden Circle Model (credits to Simon Sinek), we can begin to dissect layers of our CLC communication strategy. To illustrate, let's break down how this might look for an imaginary CLC that helps low-socioeconomic status persons with debt issues.
What does the CLC do?
Our CLC provides a free hotline for legal advice.
How does the CLC achieve its objectives?
We understand the legal needs of those living in poverty and the reasons these people get into debt; administers free, one-on-one legal advice.
Why does the CLC exist?
Our CLC exists to break the vicious cycle of poverty in WA.
Your ‘why’ will be the cornerstone of your new brand strategy. You won’t necessarily write this statement at every opportunity, but keeping your ‘CLC purpose’ at the forefront of strategic decisions is vital if you want to appear genuine in front of a watching public. How can you communicate your purpose in a way that will resonate with your board? Prospective volunteers? Clients? Government? Corporate partners?
As a CLC, if you encounter issues with client confidentiality, remember that there are other ways to highlight your purpose. Your team members' passions, a snapshot of your impact and how you've increased volunteer buy-in can all be crafted to create a supporting narrative.
Tip #2: Distilling my Why
You should now have the necessary resources to verify your ‘why’. Get yourself and your team to self-reflect. Ask your group: what kind of Australia is our CLC fighting for?
You'll need to reduce your ‘why’ into a communicable statement. You could:
- Incorporate a self-reflection task into your next staff meeting
- Make it a priority at your next quarterly meeting
- Canvass the opinions of your staff, volunteers, board directors and donors. Think, talk, brainstorm!
If the individual statements don’t match - or if your team can’t think of their 'why’ at all - then you may have an identity issue that needs to be addressed. This is why DrawHistory exists - to uncover these challenges and crystallise your organisation's vision.
Tip #3: Telling my story across mediums
Today, it's essential that organisations become effective communicators across a wide variety of media. Organisations, no matter what they're advocating for or promoting, need to be able to articulate their ‘why’. One of the world's leading charity brands, charity:water, exude their 'Redefine Charity' promise at each turn. The below video is just one example that demonstrates this.
TOOLS + RESOURCES
Don’t know where to start? Request our Purpose Model PDF from Strategy Chief, Angel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a relevant example...
In 2016 DrawHistory worked with The Humanitarian Group to create a print advertisement in the West Australian newspaper. Our partnership culminated in assisting the Group with their highly successful Seeking Refuge WA crowdfunding campaign, which raised over $90,000 from community contributions at Chuffed.org.
Check out the Group’s ‘Losing Everything’ video, which powerfully articulates their CLC ‘why’.
So what's next for my CLC?
- DrawHistory - Brand Discovery Workshops
- TEDx Talks - Zach King, The Storyteller in All of Us
- Simon Sinek - If You Don't Understand People, You Don't Understand Business
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
DrawHistory is a social impact brand agency passionate in moving the world forward. Our clients are purposeful organisations who exist to address some of the world's most important social issues. These include a number of community legal centres in Western Australia.
Mara Papavassiliou is a Strategist at DrawHistory. She comes with a passion for human rights and social justice with a background in Communication, Political Science and Law.
Jeffrey Effendi is the Head of Creativity at DrawHistory. Jeffrey has consulted global nonprofits to public listed corporates on brand, communications and marketing. Prior to the creative industry, he worked at law firms Australian Government Solicitor and Baker McKenzie.