How do you use purpose and storytelling to build a charity’s confidence in its brand?

Raleigh International inspires communities and young people around the world to create lasting change.

That's the charity's one sentence story. However, it didn't used to be.

Since strategically shifting the organisation's focus a couple of years ago from youth development to sustainable development, the team had been debating questions around Raleigh's unique role and specific impact on sustainable development.

How are we different to other organisations working in sustainable development?
Does the shift in focus mean our purpose has changed?
How should we talk now?

They were important areas to clarify around their brand positioning and storytelling.

They were also questions that inspired me as a Raleigh alumni from two expeditions - to Zimbabwe (96K) as a young volunteer, and Borneo (09B) as a volunteer project manager - and an advocate for their work having had first hand experience of it.

Clarity of purpose

One of the best parts has been getting people with competing priorities to agree on some of the fundamental questions we’ve been trying to answer at Raleigh. Within People has been able to take it further by coaching us and drawing out some key points and questions we’ve asked before but not been able to answer with such clarity.”

To get the clarity Raleigh was looking for, we started by looking at the problem Raleigh is solving and the role they play in it.

Using the principles in our Guide to Finding Purpose we worked with a core team, including Raleigh’s CEO Stacey Adams, to connect with why Raleigh exists. This included going back to the original intention of Colonel John Blashford Snell and Prince Charles in founding Raleigh.

Through workshops and conversations we landed on: Raleigh exists to create "lasting change through youth".

Lasting change - representing the specific impact that Raleigh has on sustainable development.
Through youth - being the unique role Raleigh plays as an organisation that believes in the power and energy of young people.

This gave the team clarity around their difference, and a clear articulation of their purpose as a statement that was as true 30 years ago for Raleigh as it is today.

With more than 40,000 alumni of youth expeditions to countries in Africa, Asia and Central and Southern America over the last 30 years, Raleigh has seen how when young people and local communities work side by side on projects it inspires and empowers them. And it’s the energy of empowered people that creates lasting change.

Actionable values

The initial workshop helped all stakeholders understand the power of strong actionable values and the need for more bolder, simpler communications."

We also worked through Raleigh’s values - Courage, Discovery, Drive, Impact and Integrity - exploring the difference it would make if we turned these words into actionable phrases. The energy in the room completely shifted when we started phrasing the values as Find the Courage, Open to Discovery, Never Give Up, Create Impact Together and Act with Integrity.

Everyone agreed that they knew how to live these values, both at HQ and in country, and felt they would inspire volunteers, project partners, funders and other staff members.

Telling a story with energy

“We loved coming up with the hero’s journey story as we’ve always struggled to articulate who our hero is! It’s been incredibly useful having an agency work with us who can coach us, question us and inspire us on our journey to bolder and clearer communications.”

Our next stage was to bring the clear and simple brand framework to life through a powerful story. We coached the team through a storytelling workshop clarifying Raleigh's tone of voice, and supported writing training to give the team practice telling the story. It’s helped to build belief in the new positioning and build the team’s confidence in communicating Raleigh's work and story with more energy.

Learn about Raleigh's incredible work and the energy of youth to create lasting change on their new website. I don't know about you, but I'm inspired to sign up on expedition again!

Written by Georgina Combes on Sep 30, 2015