The marketing advantage undoing disadvantage

Carol Morris from industry foundation UnLtd looks at the marketing challenges being faced by Australian charities – and the true value of donated media and skilled mentoring.

No matter what type of business you’re in, your marketing budget always needs to be justified. Though, in the not-for-profit sector, a marketing budget is more often than not a ‘nice to have’.

Justifying the expense of advertising or promotion – over delivering core programs to disadvantaged young people – is an ongoing challenge.

It’s not that these charities don’t see the value in marketing. They absolutely do, and their struggle with brand awareness and lack of profile in turn makes it difficult for them to seek funding and build scale.

It’s because of this catch-22 that having access to the goodwill of the media, marketing and advertising industry is invaluable.


Small teams, lean budgets

UnLtd’s charity partners tend to be smaller operations that run highly effective programs, but operate with small teams and very lean budgets.

Of the 43 charities we currently support, only six have an in-house marketing resource. And of those, none have an allocated media budget.

These charities provide programs across a range of youth-based services including: expressive art and music therapies, mental health services, counselling and mentoring, education and career development, Indigenous programs, heath related support, accommodation, essential needs and crisis care.

We intentionally seek out the ‘off Broadway’ charities that provide powerful programs, often at a local community level, to provide much needed services to young people.

We want these organisations to continue to do what they do best – changing young lives and giving them hope. And we want to help these charities by doing what our industry does best – building and amplifying brands.


The value of media

When Bronwyn Sheehan started the Pyjama Foundation in 2004, she never dreamed that a decade on she’d be the official charity partner of one of Australia’s largest publishing companies receiving over $700,000 in free media placements a year.

But that’s what happened.

Alarmed at the poor literacy and numeracy statistics surrounding children in foster care, and how this contributes to a lifetime of disadvantage, Sheehan founded the Pyjama Foundation. It screens, recruits and trains volunteer ‘Pyjama Angels’ and matches them with foster kids. The volunteer ‘Angels’ visit their child each week and read books aloud, play educational games and help with their homework.

In 2013, when the Pyjama Foundation joined UnLtd, we introduced them to Ali Krzyszton at Bauer Media.

“It was a natural fit for the Bauer Media Group to align with the Pyjama Foundation as our chosen charity. We are a publishing company, so we are all about spreading the written word. Magazines create social norms, so Bauer’s proposition to our readers focuses on attaching consumers to the things they really care about, the things they involve themselves in,” Krzyszton says.

To date, Bauer has created close to $1 million worth of value through donated time and media placements across: The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, OK!, NW, Good Health magazine, Dolly, Cleo and Cosmopolitan.

The Bauer team’s donated time includes producing videos and creative assets, event planning and media planning, as well as helping to support and activate fundraising activities. But Krzyszton says these are hours the team is more than willing to invest in a cause they, and their readers, really care about.

Equally as rewarding are the results we are seeing as a result of Bauer Media’s investment in this charity.

Over the past 12 months volunteer recruitment has skyrocketed. Training of Pyjama Angels has risen from around 35 per year to around 35 per month. That’s huge. And getting back to justifying the value of marketing: 90 percent of donations received via the Pyjama Foundation website say they are via the awareness generated by magazines.


The value of mentoring

The marketing profession houses a set of skills that are highly valuable to the not-for-profit sector. Our corporate mentoring program is testament to that.

We first introduced Peter Ostick, managing director at programmatic video platform TVN, to the Pyjama Foundation in October 2013 as TVN was one of the Beta partners for the payroll giving app. Ostick’s experience as founder of a fast growing business in an ever-changing competitive industry has been used to help mentor the Foundation through the national roll-out of its ‘Love of Learning’ program. As a result of this relationship, Ostick joined the Pyjama Foundation board in October 2014 and continues to be involved in identifying revenue generating income for them, as well as weekly check-ins with the CEO around key sales and marketing initiatives.

A recent study in the UK by Oxford University (‘Charity Mentors Impact Assessment Study’, August 2014, by Professor Ann Buchanan, senior research associate in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford) looked at the value of corporate mentors matched with charities.

Many charity leaders said that they often feel a sense of isolation, and that if they had not had a mentor they would have had to cope somehow, using phrases such as ‘struggled on’ or ‘bumbled on’ or ‘carried on blindly’. These sentiments are entirely consistent with the conversations we are having with our UnLtd charities currently.

Mentees really appreciate that highly skilled and experienced people are willing to give their time freely. According to the UK study, every participant apart from one felt better equipped to deal with issues as a result of the mentoring relationship.

One thing we don’t yet measure is the value back to the mentors and how fulfilling the experience is. The UK study found that the ones doing the mentoring said again and again, that the experience gave them more confidence to be better leaders back in their day jobs.

The requests we receive for skilled mentoring often include: digital planning, marketing strategies, creative, production, social media activations and amplification, financial planning, business planning and even simple administrative tasks that are time consuming.

We currently have around 25 mentors placed with UnLtd charity partners, with another 50 lined up waiting for the UnLtd matchmaking team to weave their magic and help cultivate meaningful partnerships. Last financial year, we valued our mentors’ collective support at $900,000 – this figure captures the time, skills and expertise of individuals across our industry providing pro bono advice and project delivery for our charities. In the next 12 months we anticipate this will increase to around $3 million.


Unlimited value

UnLtd was born when a group of marketing and media professionals decided that, as an industry, we had the power to tackle a large scale social issue – the plight of over 680,000 young Australians who are significantly disadvantaged due to circumstances beyond their control.

Every one of us in the media, marketing and advertising industries can play a valuable part in giving disadvantaged young people the support, opportunity, belief and hope they deserve.

We have the power to give little known charities access to media exposure they never fathomed. We can provide access to talent and skill sets they would never usually be able to afford. We are directly helping these remarkable organisations build effectiveness, scale and make a positive impact on more young lives.

The value of what we have to offer with the entire industry united behind our movement is unlimited.


Carol Morris is general manager at UnLtd.


Marketing is proud to welcome UnLtd as its not-for-profit content partner. UnLtd is the only not-for-profit philanthropic foundation representing the media, marketing and advertising community, and aims to harness the wealth, talent and influence of the industry, and channel this to support the most creative and innovative organisations that work with at risk young people. Visit to get involved.

Carol Morris
BY Carol Morris ON 11 September 2015
Carol Morris’ career has largely been in the media communications industry. She was agency manager at Merchant and Partners, general manager at UM then executive director of the MFA before joining UN LTD as general manager in early 2013.