Guide Dogs Australia

Empowering a federated charity to achieve their national vision.

How do you help a federated charity to bring clarity to their digital ecosystem and social media presence nationally, whilst still retaining their independence?

Guide Dogs Australia represents each of Australia's state and territory-based Guide Dog organisations. They each deliver essential services to Australians who are blind or have low vision and their comprehensive support is specifically suited to the needs of their state or territory. This is suited to their service requirements, however their individualised approach was creating a disparate and disconnected digital ecosystem, and inconsistent marketing strategies.


  • Charity, non-profit


  • Australia

The problem

As a federated charity, each Guide Dogs office had its own marketing team. This resulted in 20 websites, 30 social media accounts, and 15 community groups. This disconnected digital ecosystem caused confusion and damaged user experience.

The approach

For the project to be effective, we needed to understand the whole picture. We spent time with each team to understand their skills, capacity and digital literacy and conducted a series of surveys, workshops, research and analysis.

The end-game

The goal was to match the organisational goals with the needs of each marketing team. We needed to create a plan for the whole organisation to move forwards, together, in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Guide Dogs’ needed clarity on the current state of their digital ecosystem and social media presence nationally.


Guide Dogs is a high functioning, but operationally complex organisation.

This is not uncommon for a federated charity, with several local organisations operating under a single identity. Many of the great challenges facing charities today stem in some way from a polarisation between localism and scale.

Whilst geography played a large part in client services at Guide Dogs, it had little influence in their digital world. Separating digital presence by state made little sense. It created inefficiencies and additional costs. It also diluted marketing performance and meant they missed opportunities, potentially putting them under threat from competitors developing more impactful digital experiences.

However, in order for this to happen, it was important to understand the complexities that were woven into the project. People, capabilities, time pressures and communication were all key to effectively moving things forward.

By working with the individual marketing teams, we were able to bring everyone along with the national vision.

Rowan Barnes - Head of Insights


The individual marketing teams were incredibly passionate about what they did.

It was important that we maintained and built on that enthusiasm. By talking to them we started to understand some of the challenges they faced. Replicating work across the states resulted in the team being stretched for time, which meant they struggled to develop the skills they needed to excel. Mapping the teams digital literacy, we were able to understand more effectively how this could be improved and the teams could work more effectively.

It also became clear that there were many areas where the teams would benefit from greater collaboration. By working with the individual states and territories, we found ways to improve how they engaged and interacted, both externally (with clients, donors, volunteers) and internally (with others in their organisation).

It was important that we put Guide Dogs in the strongest position to compete with national competitors.


Guide Dogs Australia had a superior service offering.

By creating a more cohesive and effective national digital and marketing presence, they had an opportunity not only to compete, but to lead the market.

This ultimately meant consolidating websites and social media accounts to give their audience a single front door. It was possible to build a more collaborative, centralised marketing team, who would use a single set of marketing tools, guided by a national marketing strategy that drives all marketing activity, regardless of location.

To ensure that everyone played a part in this transformation, we provided a comprehensive set of recommendations that – over the course of two years – brought the states together operationally. This allowed them to provide a better user experience for audiences, resulting in cost savings, process efficiencies and improvements in marketing performance. And ultimately more clients, donors and volunteers.