Money on a mission

Money is neutral. It’s what you do with it that counts. Our challenge was to help funding pioneers bring to life the possibilities of wealth when it’s invested for good.

When you save money or invest your money, it starts a new journey. Sometimes it does good along the way; sometimes it doesn’t. This was the notion — beautifully and plainly expressed by Edward Siegel, CEO at Charity Bank — that set us off on our journey in helping the organisation communicate its incredible impact.

Since 2002, Charity Bank has been loaning money to hundreds of charities and social enterprises that work with some of the most disadvantaged people in the UK. Its team of investors use money in the way it should be used: to make the world a better place. Sadly, not all banks can say the same. 

The fact that Charity Bank is a pioneering force in finance was what drew us to first working with the team back in 2014. To be about people, not numbers, is a bold statement to make in this world. We were, however, under no illusion that the experts at Charity Bank knew their numbers. They also know well the social and environmental sectors they fund. It’s with this expert knowledge and depth of data that they’re able to help people who need it most.

But how do you use data to demonstrate this positive relationship and show potential investors that a drop in the ocean can really make a big difference? 

We saw how the guilloche rosette could be used as a positive symbol against the wider misuse of the money: the damage it does to lives and the environment when badly invested.

This has been Charity Bank’s communications challenge since the beginning. And in 2019 they came to us for support in meeting it head-on. They’d started to look afresh at their strategy and recognised that to help more people and do more good, they simply needed more incoming investment.

Turning numbers into a story

That meant telling a clearer, more compelling story about their impact. The many life-changing ripples they help to instigate right across the charitable sector — in health and social care, in social housing, in education, in environmental issues. With the right creative solution, we saw an opportunity to capture Charity Bank’s unique work in making connections between people and numbers — and deepen that connection for audiences.

We had a stack of data, but few interesting starting points. The main issue was brand. The essence of the message needed to come from the Charity Bank identity, but this was in need of a refresh and there was no time or budget to address it from the roots up. It was a question of what we could do to move it forward incrementally, taking inspiration from what Charity Bank already had. 

Looking for insight, we reviewed the narrative and impact content, the brand guidelines, core communications including the website and, of course, the landscape. We needed to show money in a different light; how it travels from investors to organisations and radiates out to touch the lives of many people. 

Easier said than done. 

The emotional connection

Crucially, the copy review process provided an opportunity for us to help guide the creative thinking. The initial narrative theme was Follow the money. We felt this didn’t quite capture Charity Bank’s essence and might even be misconstrued. Instead we suggested forming a bold message more closely around the good Charity Bank does; to amplify this intent and evoke the sense of trust shared by their supporters and investors. Money on a mission did just that, while being something with which readers could emotionally connect. 

Money on a mission was a neat way of expressing the journey of their investment work, and a great starting point for the visual inspiration. The latter materialised in perhaps the most obvious of places: a British banknote. If you look closely at old Sterling, you’ll recognise an iconic and finely decorative pattern — the guilloche rosette — designed to protect against forgery.

We saw how this pattern could be used as a positive symbol against the wider misuse of the money: the damage it unleashes on lives and the environment when badly invested. And with its linear but interlacing form, we saw how it could be adapted to show the kind of journeys that money makes when it’s invested for good. The connections it forges. The people it touches. The lives it helps to improve. 

We’d knew we’d hit upon a really effective way of guiding audiences through Charity Bank’s impact.

We were able to translate them into something meaningful that could be understood by all. Neither us or Charity Bank could have achieved that alone. The resulting graphics were the fruits of true collaboration. 

Introducing the human impact into these journeys was relatively easy. We wove authentic case studies and images of real people benefiting from investment. Visualising the numbers, however, was a bit more challenging. Turning raw data into beautiful infographics that could be grasped both at a glance and in more detail (for those that wanted it) demanded us to understand those numbers.

Fortunately someone at Charity Bank lived and breathed those figures. He knew what they meant, the stories they told. So, we were able to translate them into something meaningful that could be understood by all. Neither us or Charity Bank could have achieved that alone.

The resulting graphics were the fruits of true collaboration. A collaboration that led to a successful project with plenty of learning, for all parties. Learning we carried through to subsequent impact reports for Charity Bank.

As for Money on a mission and the guilloche rosette, these are now hallmarks of the Charity Bank brand.