|19 Jan 2022
Charity brands are everywhere. Without even realizing, our daily lives are affected. Red Cross, Amnesty International and Greenpeace are as ubiquitous as Google, Hilton Worldwide and Unilever. Presently, the boundaries between corporate and charity categories are blurring as corporations define their social purpose for profit, and charities adopt corporate tactics for impact.
Historically, charities have taken narrow approach to brand management, using it as a tool for fundraising. They knew increased visibility and favorable positioning would result in donations. In an increasingly competitive landscape, more have moved beyond that approach, to explore the wider, strategic roles that brand can also play in mission and vision.
Founded in 1897, the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital, known fondly to generations of Dubliners as “The Eye and Ear”. A public teaching hospital, it is also the National Referral Centre for both eye and ear, nose and throat disorders. It was the first hospital in Ireland built entirely by private philanthropy. Architecturally significant, the listed building on Adelaide Road is an important brand asset which holds memories for many.
As part of a five-year strategic plan, “Seeing the Future, 2021-2026”, the hospital council voted to establish a new charitable foundation which will raise visibility, and funding, not only locally but across the republic and abroad. To date, limited fundraising activity had been carried out by the hospital directly or through a subsidiary trust.
The collaborative process for developing name, mission, vision and brand assets of this new foundation was a considerable commitment of resources. From surveys to focus groups via Zoom, internal and external stakeholders contributed their time and talents, with additional input from advisors and partners in both Ireland and the U.S.
The name “Acuity Foundation Ireland” was workshopped with several other potential monikers. After a rigorous vetting process, it was adopted. Appropriately, it means sharpness of mind, as well as vision and hearing. The mission and vision for the foundation were thoughtfully developed and informed by peer institutions including the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.
Mission: Acuity Foundation Ireland is a public charity headquartered in Dublin. In conjunction with the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital and their academic partners, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Acuity Foundation Ireland is committed to the education of future health care professionals, as well as the education of the public concerning the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the diseases in its specialties and concerning the rehabilitation of patients handicapped by these diseases. In order to provide the highest quality of contemporary care and even better care in the future, Acuity Foundation Ireland funds laboratory and clinical research in auditory and visual diseases. Acuity Foundation Ireland is committed to excellence in patient care, teaching and research in Dublin, Ireland and the world.
Vision: To establish a preeminent world-wide center for advances and leaders in preserving and restoring vision, hearing, balance and voice, as well as in curing disorders of the head and neck.
We will achieve this vision through our mission:
• Supporting exceptional clinical care
• Funding cutting-edge translational and clinical research
• Committing to tomorrow’s leaders and today’s medical community
Mason Hayes & Curran and PwC Ireland provided briefs outlining the importance of clarity and distinction between the hospital and foundation. The Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital and Acuity Foundation Ireland are separate legal entities and not legally related. The hospital cannot direct the foundation to act in a particular way, and vice versa. It is for the trustees of each independent entity to determine what is in the best interest of the specific entity, and act accordingly.
Ultimately, a brand is a feeling. It is what people feel and think when they hear the name or see the logo, colour palette, social media icons or typography. Amazon founder and executive chairman, Jeff Bezos, puts it like this, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
The Acuity Foundation Ireland brand is bold, sophisticated and ambitious, focused on the future.
Christopher Clinton Conway is Managing Director of Acuity Foundation Ireland.