GUEST BLOG: Guide to creating a successful charity marketing campaign on a budget

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Charity Marketing

By Where The Trade Buys

Designing and launching a marketing campaign is tough enough even when you have limitless cash to fund it — so how do you do it if you’re a charity with a strict budget?

Here, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you create, run and launch a cost-effective marketing campaign that will help your organisation achieve its marketing goals.

Marketing goals

What are you expecting from your campaign? Need to improve people’s awareness of your organisation? Have a fundraising target? Want to interest donations from businesses? Decide what it is and let that guide everything else you do to make campaign management easier and prevent unnecessary spending.

Any target is achievable, as long as your objectives are precise, measurable and realistic.

Analyse your target audience

Audience research is central to any marketing campaign — so get this completed as early as possible. Who is the audience you want to target in this campaign? A good place to start might be with your organisation’s current donors. This way, you can find out the interests, likes and motivations of people who already choose to donate to you, which will help you create content that others will engage with. You can do this for free by using your website’s analytics and metrics, checking out social media accounts, or via a postal survey.

Defining your audience now means you’re less likely to make an error later that could take unnecessary money from your marketing budget.

Determine your campaign’s key message

Now, it’s time to decide on your campaign’s central message — if you want people to identify with one idea or concept, what would it be?

Why not create a story? Some of the most powerful charity marketing campaigns have succeeded due to how they tell a story pertaining to the organisation. 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.

Take a look at how your organisation has helped others and pick a willing case study to build a narrative around. 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. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

Write effective campaign copy

Your campaign content must maintain a chatty and friendly tone throughout if you want to engage with your audience. Nobody wants to read something that sounds stiff, stuffy and arrogant.

Strong, emotive and informative copy is an excellent accompaniment to a well-shot video or powerful photo, and often helps get your message across. 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 pull-up banners and posters. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

What if you need extra funding?

While there are ways to fund your own marketing campaign, it’s always good to see if you can get extra funding. The sources below are good places to start:

  • Public: today, people are encouraged 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).
  • Business: apparently, the number of corporate donations are growing.
  • Trusts: there are thousands of grant-making foundations across the UK which collectively have given billions of pounds to charitable causes.
  • Local government: although the amount given from these bodies differs, you can browse this list of local authorities for more information.

Get your campaign seen and heard

When it’s time to distribute materials for your campaign, you want to capitalise on all avenues in order to maximise the chances that your campaign will reach a wide audience.

Print marketing is an effective way to reach people with a professional-looking, well thought-out product that they can keep. Almost 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. Since print is such a popular marketing channel for charities, many design and print agencies work closely and often with non-profit organisations. So, don’t hold back from getting in touch and discussing your options.

To help you stick to your budget, incorporate your social media platforms and reach people with posts, photos and Tweets. This format is a good way to engage with a lot of people quickly. 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.

It’s definitely achievable to create a functional, effective marketing campaign without spending thousands. Keep these tips in mind when you decide to design and launch your own campaign.



Stuart O'Brien

All stories by: Stuart O'Brien