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Save money and launch an effective charity marketing campaign

Charities have it tough when it comes to marketing and advertising. With limited funds, launching a successful, widespread strategy is more difficult than it is for commercial companies — so how can you solve the problem?

Here, we’ve put together a guide to take you through creating and launching an effective marketing campaign to promote your charity — including all the pitfalls you need to avoid to save yourself from wasting cash!

Who is your target audience and how can you reach them?

You can’t do anything until you’ve decided who you are targeting — how you’d reach an 18-21-year-old man is very different from how you’d target a 65-80-year-old woman. Research your key audience until you know them inside out.

There are lots of ways you can find out more about your audience, but we recommend using both online and offline methods to cast a wider net. Firstly, make the most of social media and online platforms — see who is liking your posts. Google Analytics (if your charity’s website has it) can tell you about your current donors’ behaviour, age and gender, while free-to-use Twitter lets you see what other groups and accounts your followers are interested in to help with content creation later. You can also use a postal or email survey to ask specific details, if you wish.

Discovering your audience’s interests, likes and motivations will help you create a marketing strategy that they’ll engage with.

Describe your marketing goal

The easiest way to waste cash is by not having a clear plan and goal. Ask yourself: what do I want to achieve with this campaign? Then, let that choice guide everything else you do. Not only will this make your campaign easier to manage, but it’ll also prevent unnecessary spending.

Do you:

  • Have a fundraising target?
  • Need to improve your organisation’s online authority?
  • Want to attract more regular donors?
  • Wish to create a charity event?

Your charity can aim and achieve anything else so long as you stay on course and have a strong, well-researched strategy. Just remember to make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Determine your marketing message

You marketing message is slightly more difficult to describe, but just as important as your marketing goal. A good key message perfectly sums up your charity and how you want it to be perceived.

What makes your organisation special? The trick to creating a good charity marketing message is highlighting your organisation and what it’s done. For example; US organisation, charity: water, dedicates a section of its website to real-life stories of people the charity has helped, and is renowned for its vivid images and poignant videos.

A sure-fire way to engage with the public and portray why they should get on board with your campaign is by showing, not telling them, what you do. Real-life stories and images that show how you’ve made a positive difference work well when presented to the public. Carry out interviews, take pictures and even do a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity. Good photos and insightful case studies make excellent pamphlets and leaflets that you can post around your local area.

Write effective marketing copy

Marketing copy nowadays can include anything from taglines and social media posts, to videos and images. Photos and videos are crucial to creating an eye-catching campaign. But these are nothing without strong, emotive and informative copy to support them. Make sure your content is punchy and powerful with a strong key message — such as: ‘Help is a four-legged word’ from Canine Companions. Taglines like this jump off print marketing products like flyers and posters. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

When writing any text during your campaign, try to make it sound friendly, engaging and hopeful — even if you’re discussing frightening statistics or a problem in society. People are more likely to engage with this tone, and stuffy language and an impersonal tone don’t equal a superior strategy.

How to get your campaign to your target audience

Once you’ve written and planned as much as you can, it’s time to start sending out your material and getting your campaign to the masses! Powerful images work best on billboards and roll-up banners, rather than on social media and email ads where your audience can scroll past or click away. So, consider these when you’re deciding on marketing formats — you should be able to negotiate a good deal as a non-profit organisation. Print inspires loyalty and nearly 80% of charitable donations come from direct mail, according to a report by the Institute of Fundraising.

This doesn’t mean ignoring social media platforms — these are generally free and can be very useful for connecting with a wide pool of people. Use your charity’s online platforms — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — to boost your campaign and encourage people to share your posts, photos and Tweets to spread the word. In 2014, the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA) launched a video marketing campaign to raise awareness and hallmark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. Despite only running for two weeks, the campaign was covered hundreds of times in the media and achieved more than 14,000 social media shares.

Clearly, it’s achievable to design and launch a quality, engaging campaign without throwing lots of cash at it. If you’re keen to get extra funding, perhaps contact:

  • The public.
  • Local government bodies.
  • Businesses.
  • Grant-making foundations.