Creating the Ideal Charity Marketing Campaign on a Budget

Marketing a charity is rarely simple. Not only do you have to come up with a unique idea, but you also have to fund it – difficult when you’re a charitable organisation with limited cash.

So, what’s the solution? In this guide, we look at the key points you need to consider to ensure you launch a successful campaign with high engagement potential. What’s more, we discuss money-saving tactics to help you save cash while not harming the quality of your strategy.

Campaign purpose

What is your campaign goal? This might sound simple, and you might think you know it already, but it’s important that you – and your team – physically write this down to make sure you stick to it throughout your campaign. Decide what you want to achieve and 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.

There could be lots of reasons that you have decided to launch a campaign for your charity. Popular ones include:

  • Improving your organisation’s online authority.
  • Hitting fundraising targets.
  • Driving more social media engagement.
  • Attracting more donors.
  • Creating a charity event.

Your campaign purpose must be precise, measurable and realistic. As long as everyone knows where they’re headed and why, you’ll save on costly errors and a weakened strategy.

Marketing message

What do you want people to think about when they see your campaign? Your main marketing message differs from your campaign purpose, as it’s more to do with: the problem you want to solve, the answer that you suggest and the action the audience can take.

How are you going to attract attention and get people involved with your campaign? One successful way that has worked for many charities is by showing, not telling, what an organisation does. 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.

Why not video an interview with a donator, then take photos to document the event and share on social media? In fact, you can even do a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity to show the good work that the charity carries out. Good photos and insightful case studies make excellent pamphlets and leaflets that you can post around your local area. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

The content you use is all part of the marketing message, as it’s what people will associate with your charity and compel them to engage or not.

Target audience

You may think that you know who your audience is – but do you really? You need to understand your audience, know your marketing objective, and be aware of social and economic factors that might affect people donating to your organisation. No matter what issues you face, being aware means you have a much greater chance of overcoming them without having to start over, which is costly.

You can use a combination of print and digital research strategies to find out who your target audience is. Find out age, gender, interests, likes, and motivations using your website’s analytics, and use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to learn who is following your charity. Do you write blogs? Your Google Analytics data will tell you what type of content is popular on your site, so you have a better understanding of what people are wanting to read from you. Also, don’t forget to make the most your email list. Send a survey to these contacts for a better understanding of who they are.

Content and language

Completely free of charge, you can use the camera on your smartphone to capture quality video and photo content that you can use on social media, your website, and for publication in newspapers or magazines. However, if you don’t turn that content into interactive content, it may not have the impact you are after. Content is all good and well, but if it’s not engaging, it can often be pointless. Images are nothing without strong, emotive and informative copy to support them. Make sure your copy is punchy and powerful with a strong key message – such as: ‘Likes don’t save lives‘ from UNICEF Sweden or ‘Help is a four-legged word‘ from Canine Companions. Taglines like these jump off print marketing products like flyers and roll-up banners.

No matter where people view your content, you need to keep it chatty, familiar and light-hearted -even when handling sensitive issues.

Distributing tactics

There’s been much innovation in the print marketing sector, so it’s worth researching a few companies to see what prices you’re looking at for quality material. Nearly 80% of charitable donations come from direct mail, according to a report by the Institute of Fundraising. The same report detailed that print inspires loyalty, with more than half of the people surveyed stating that they find print the most credible marketing channel and a quarter keeping printed products for future reference.

Use your charity’s free online platforms -Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – to boost your campaign and encourage people to share your posts, photos and Tweets without spending any cash. This tactic has also proved successful in the past for other charities. 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.

Generally, a combination of digital, and print is often best in charity marketing in order to reach a wider pool of people.

Alternative funding

Hopefully, you’ve found the above advice useful for launching a campaign on a budget. If you’d prefer to have extra cash just in case, why not try the following:

  • Local government: locally-based authorities allocate funds to various charities, but the level of budget and support differs depending on where your organisation is based.
  • Public: Today, people have an even greater incentive to donate, due to government-introduced measures such as: Gift Aid (charities can claim back tax from donations) and Payroll Giving (employees donate automatically from their monthly wage).
  • Lottery: about 28% of lottery ticket sales are donated to charities.
  • Trusts: there are thousands to choose from across the UK.
  • Business: corporate donations are growing in popularity.

Keep these marketing techniques in mind when you’re trying to keep costs down during your next charity marketing campaign.




Meredith Weisser

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