How to scale a local NGO? – Brand strategy for a non-government organization in 5 weeks
5 weeks to create a brand strategy for an NGO combining several different generations in one district of a city – doesn’t it sound like a challenge? 5 sprints, 3 people on the project, and a strategy that allows for scaling business. That’s what you’ll read about in the following case study.
In November 2018, a non-government organization, whose activities have ceased to be scaled, came to us. The goal was to create a marketing and business strategy that would allow, on the one hand, to develop the organization in accordance with its values, and on the other, to go beyond the regional area in which it operates.
We started the project in January 2019. The biggest challenge was the local nature of the organization’s activities. The question arose: how to transfer the unique value of an organization to the actions of other, but similar regions. First, however, we had to work out a unique value proposition for the organization and the region.
Sprint 1: Interviews with the NGO founders based on Business Model Canvas and SWOT
The process of selecting a unique value proposition for the non-government organization started with individual in-depth interviews with its founders. The research was carried out in the cosy atmosphere of a cafe, where it is easier to reflect, recall memories and describe ideas, because that’s what we asked the founders about. The interview scenario was based on Business Model Canvas and SWOT (strengths – weaknesses – opportunities – threats). Our goal was to determine:
- target group: which group of recipients does the organization address its offer to, can the owners determine it, is it one group or several groups?
- problem – solution fit: what problem does the organization solve with its activities, what needs of the residents it responds to, what actions does it take?
- UVP: is the organization able to name something that makes it stand out from the competition, what is it?
- reach channels: what marketing and sales channels the organization uses, what actions does it take, who does it?
- revenue and cost streams: how does the organization finance itself and how would it like to do it?
- purpose, mission and vision: how do the founders of the organization imagine the foundation in 10 years and in 20 years?
- strengths and weaknesses of the organization as well as opportunities and threats
and to identify the biggest problems and needs of each of the founders of the organization. In the meantime, we tried to determine their personality types to find out if the team was complementary.
Hypothesis 1: The target group is dispersed and fragmentary.
Hypothesis 2: Lack of consistency between the founders of the organization in the context of the mission, vision and goal.
Hypothesis 3: Ease in determining the UVP of the region, difficulty in determining what makes the organization stand out.
Hypothesis 4: No marketing and sales strategy.
Hypothesis 5: The organization lacks a “red-blue” personality that would have a business approach, managed events in terms of logistics, prepared documentation and applications.
We decided to validate the hypotheses, weaknesses and strengths of the organization through interviews with residents and workshops with them, as well as workshops with founders.
Sprint 2: 20 hours of talk time, i.e. UX research
We started the UX research process with an internal workshop where we selected two main target groups that gave us the largest input for the project. Our selection criterion was the involvement in the life of the region, the size of the group in the area, and the potential for using the services of the organization.
Proto-persona 1: activists – intellectuals. The group of people who actively participate in the life of the region, have their own businesses supporting the functioning and life of the community, local patriots.
Proto-Persona 2: families with children. One of the two most numerous social groups in the region, which represents its future and development potential. These people care about the development of the district so that their children have better quality of life. Current and potential recipients of the NGO’s offer.
To make the test results reliable, we decided to talk to 5-6 selected people from a given group. The founders of the organization helped us search for people to interview. All conversations took place in a friendly cafe in the district, in accordance with the “let’s talk about the region in the region” principle.
The interview scenario was based on 4 goals for each group, which helped us learn about and validate UVP of the organization and the region.
We completed the research process by collecting conclusions from interviews that gave us a homogeneous image of the UVP of the region and the organization. According to the initial plan, we verified them in the next stage of research – through workshops with the founders of the organization and the inhabitants of the region. This double validation gave us confidence that our assumptions, developed on the basis of research, were correct.
Sprint 3: One place, two generations – workshops with the inhabitants of the region
The next step was to confirm the determined UVP during workshops with other groups of recipients. Who did we choose for the research? The region’s most numerous social group – seniors and new residents (living there for a minimum of 5 years). We based our selection on the gentrification process, which brings about a generational change in the region and the desire to juxtapose two contrasting social groups.
To this end, we organized workshops using the design studio and coffee table methods. The methods were selected for the examined group so that the process would be as lean as possible. The workshop was divided into three parts. In the first part, we worked individually with specific social groups; in the second, both social groups based on the developed conclusions formed a common vision of the region.
Together with a group of seniors, we tried to bring back memories of the region from their youth. For this purpose, we used old photographs from 50 years ago. They launched a retrospective process of what happened several decades ago. Everything over coffee and apple pie! The current thoughts of seniors and reflections on changes in the region were written on a flip, creating a mind map.
The second group – the migrants to the region – used photos of the most important monuments and buildings, cards, crayons, and markers to create their own poster of how they would like their district to look in a few dozen years. In this way we could see what is important to them, what hurts them, what makes them happy, and what they would like to change.
In the second part, each group presented the results of their work to the others. Group compositions were mixed in such a way as to create two new ones consisting of both seniors and immigrant residents. The goal was to bring together the visions of the region of both groups, and to develop a shared one instead.
Thanks to the workshop, we confirmed that a unique proposition of value for the region is to combine the history, places, traditions and identity of the region with its diverse (ethnically, demographically, culturally) inhabitants on a cultural and social level. We also validated the UVP of the region itself, which was based on building community, identity and local history together.
Sprint 4: Analysis and strategy
Let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. We started with interviews with the founders who gave us a setup for the project. Thanks to interviews with the inhabitants, we have made the UVP more specific and precise, and we have been able to determine why the region is unique, what would be worth changing, and what cultural and social life looks like there. We checked this information during a workshop with two other social groups.
It’s time for a holistic analysis of data obtained from many areas and creation of a comprehensive business and marketing strategy focused on growth (economies of scale) and its verification with the founders of the NGO.
Sprint 5: From strategy to tactical plan – final workshop
The final was a workshop with the founders of the organization, during which we worked out a tactical plan for the following months in the areas of: team, promotion, volunteering, events, flagship event, partners and sponsors, headquarters and financing. How did we do that?
Together with our clients, we have determined using brainstorming activities that fall into the above areas and are relevant to the development of the organization. The canvas for work was the developed UVP. We then discussed these activities and arranged them on a timeline to prioritize tasks. The result? A tactical plan containing specific, measurable goals to be implemented.
Summary of our work – in numbers and more
With zero knowledge about the region, we created a business and marketing strategy for the local brand in the 5th week with the prospect of development outside the district.
Each hypothesis has been subjected to double validation with residents who are final recipients of this strategy. Thanks to this, we were able to present our clients with a plan that we can be sure meets the needs of the local community.
Tools used in the project
- Business Model Canvas – a tool used to organize strategic areas within a business. Business model start-up template.
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