Webinar Outcome: Building the Charter Brand

Identifying key Charter benefits for each function in our organisation and the public
28 August 2015

Topic Experts
Gilles Van Handenhove, Brand and Communications Officer, Oxfam International
(Presentation pdf.)
Jane Clancey, Head of Global Brand, Amnesty International (Presentation pdf.)

Further Readings:
♦  Charter Brand Architecture
♦  How does the Charter add value to your daily tasks?
♦  Download Outcome Summary pdf.

Why build the brand?
While most Charter Members value the Charter as a driver to improve their accountability, they miss greater recognition for this work. They would like to see a stronger Charter brand:
♦  To increase the legitimacy and the credibility of the Charter.
♦  To position the organisation clearly vis-à-vis its stakeholders.
♦  To enlarge the Charter network and strengthen our collective voice.

In a nutshell: the Charter needs to be well known and understood to achieve its ultimate ambition of driving ICSOs’ positive impact on people’s lives and the environment. Against this background a group of branding and communication experts from Charter Members met with the Secretariat, representatives from the Charter Board and the Independent Review Panel in July 2015 in London to develop a first draft of the Charter’s positioning.

What’s our value proposition?
The group identified the Charter’s
1. unique features (cross-sectoral, global, comprehensive etc.)
2. advantages it offers (well tested frame, effective process, credible platform etc.)
3. benefits it brings (credibility, driving quality of work, risk management etc.)

You can find a summary outcome of the meeting attached in Annex I. All taken together this leads to a draft positioning statement which currently reads as follows:

For CSOs who wish to build and demonstrate their ability to delivering optimal work for stakeholders, the INGO Accountability Charter offers an effective and credible framework to realise their mission. It is a recognised, comprehensive and independent system developed by the leading CSOs.

This positioning statement is work in progress and it will only be complete if it resembles Charter Members’ beliefs. You need to own it for it to be successful. We therefore ask you to please take a close look at the attached outline and give us your views whether we got it right and where you see it differently from your organisation’s perspective.

How to increase Charter recognition?
The best way to achieve greater recognition for the Charter is if Members themselves proudly communicate their membership within the organisation and externally. This is more credible than communication from the Secretariat and it has a greater reach. For if the fundraisers, campaigners, CEOs, programmers and others in the organisation talk about the Charter as a helpful tool to raise funds, support the credibility of campaigns, improve the quality of work or support global management decisions – that is the best way to build knowledge, ownership and ultimately a recognised brand.

It is the Secretariat’s role to provide our Members with all you need in communication tools and messages to do this successfully. We will work on this as soon as the positioning has been collectively agreed.

How does the Charter help to manage my daily tasks?
Unless people understand how the Charter adds very concrete benefit to their daily tasks, uptake and communication will not be strong. We therefore asked our Members how the Charter concretely helped CEOs, fundraisers, programmers, HR, campaigners etc. You can have a look at their answers in Annex II. Please let us know your views – good or bad – on how the Charter adds most value to your specific work. This will give us a good indication of how you use the Charter and what we can do to improve its value for you.

Some suggestions on how to use the Charter well in Members’ everyday work include:
• Making Charter Membership and commitment to the Charter visible when applying for funding;
• Using the Independent Review Panel’s feedback constructively: keeps one’s focus on accountability towards beneficiaries as well as supporters in programmes and use the feedback to steer internal discussions and progress;
• Using the Charter and accountability as a management tool to actively drive strategic decisions;
• Making use of Charter Member peers’ expertise in order to keep up to date about cutting edge developments in the field;
• Engaging with Charter peers in internal discussions about improving your overall transparency and organisational development; and
• Communicating the Charter’s added value directly to your stakeholders – e.g.: to the people you serve, to donors and to the media.

Challenges and Potential Solutions
#1 The Charter is not well known across functions and regions of my organisation
Organise internal meetings to raise awareness of the Charter, its vetting mechanism and key projects. Distribute Charter key documents and materials such as the organisation’s Accountability Report to the Charter – build knowledge and expertise based on the Independent Review Panel’s feedback. Find additional tips here and here.

#2: The credibility of the Charter would improve if it was recognised as a “seal”
Option A) The Charter logo tells the onlooker, that this CSO is part of a network that is adamant to establishing high levels of accountability in the sector and its Members in particular.

Option B) The Charter logo tells the onlooker that this CSO has been thoroughly vetted and reached a very high standard of accountability.

Option A describes a membership based organisation that helps and pushes the sector to significantly improve its accountability. The downside is that it is not a clear cut promise on the achieved and audited level of quality of Charter Members.
Option B is more like a quality seal – easy to recognise and use – good for communication purposes. The downside is:
• Our focus will be on a pass or fail exercise and no longer on a continuous journey of development.
• Indicators will have to be more streamlined and qualitative to allow for a comparable and factual audit.
• We need to be ready to outsource the vetting process to achieve full credibility / this evidently also changes our business model.
• There is a risk that if Members do not perform well – that the seal reputation is undermined.

Based on the above considerations the Charter Board has decided for Option A. While acknowledging that the two options need not be mutually exclusive, being Option A gives us the opportunity to be clear about having already reached a high standard that we strive to maintain. It will be also up to us to communicate that this commitment to high quality is backed with evidence of achievements.

#3: Members do not display the Charter logo prominently on their landing page
It is understood that our Members are very keen to keep their landing pages to key messages of their own organisation. It was suggested however that creating a “We are accountable” tab which, by clicking leads the user/reader to the specific sub-page which reports on the organisations accountability would be a practical approach to solving this.

Next steps for the Charter:
1. Refine the brand positioning statement.
2. Develop the corporate descriptor (short and long narratives of our value proposition)
3. Determine which brand elements need to be further developed or not (e.g. tagline, name, logo, visual graphics etc.)
4. Review and implement communication strategy

Posted in News
Contact the Charter
Secretariat Coordinator: Merle Rutz
Email: mrutz@icscentre.org
INGO Accountability Charter
c/o International Civil Society Centre Agricolastraße 26
10555 Berlin, Germany
Tel: + 49-30-2062 4697 12
Fax: + 49-30-2062 4697 19