John Mathers, former CEO at the Design Council, has worked with independent creative director Bill Wallsgrove to launch a new business consultancy that will focus solely on branding charities and non-profit organisations.
Mathers & Walsgrove will be based in two offices in London and Brighton, and will work with charity boards, governors and councils, and trustees to help charities improve their brand image to increase their opportunities for commercial funding.
The business will provide “commercial, strategic, branding and fundraising” advice for charities and non-profits to help them establish and understand what sets them apart in the charity sector, says Wallsgrove.
The two partners, Mathers and Wallsgrove, will then commission creative work to one of a “wide network” of graphic and brand design studios they are collaborating with on the new venture, who they have formed relationships with “through extensive experience” in the design industry, Wallsgrove adds.
The service will be paid for, and none of the design or brand advice services will be offered to charities for free.
168,000 registered charities in UK
According to Government statistics, there are currently 167,972 registered charities in the UK, which includes small independents and big corporations.
“If you’re not a behemoth like Cancer Research UK or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), if you’re one of the smaller charities, you need to embrace marketing and creativity as a core part of your fundraising efforts,” says Mathers. “Addressing these issues could make all the difference to your on-going viability.”
Wallsgrove adds that the new venture aims to help charities “think like brand owners” in order to stay afloat, by knowing who their audience is, what they need and how the charity can meet that need.
“The funding challenge will only get worse”
“The funding challenge is only going to get worse and over the next few years, we will no doubt see many charities ceasing to operate or paring back their ambitions,” he says. “Clarity of position means understanding what sets you apart, and why you are more relevant than similar products and services that operate in the same space. We need that to happen in the charity sector.”
Wallsgrove has been a designer for over 30 years, having previously worked at Coley Porter Bell, Futurebrand, Big Idea and Brand Voice. He is currently non-executive director at Studio Blup and a visiting lecturer at the London College of Communication (LCC) and Ravensbourne. He also works with UK charities on branding and strategy to help them secure more funding from brands.
Mathers has worked in the design industry for nearly 40 years, having most recently held the role of CEO at the Design Council for four years. He previously worked as international CEO at Holmes & Marchant, and worked at Brand Union for 10 years. He recently founded the British Design Fund, which supports start-up design businesses and ventures.