One of the first things that immediately comes to mind when asked “how do charities market themselves?” or “how do charities raise money?” is the relentless people who stand tabard clad on the street with their clipboards and money tins only to be snubbed by 90% of passers by. Successful or not, these people are marketing as ultimately they are raising awareness of the charity.

marketing a charity

So the question is, how can you guarantee your marketing is going to be successful and a worthy cause is going to benefit?

The first thing to remember is that the principles of charities marketing are very similar to selling a product or service. The only difference is your service is donating money to a good cause. And we all know that getting people to part with their money can be a very difficult task indeed.  So in order to place yourself at the forefront of the receiving line when the desire to give takes them you must first  find people sympathetic to your cause and then articulate your USP .

Marketing for charities is not a numbers game and you don’t want or need just anybody on your database, you want and need those most likely to become qualified leads.  And what do I mean by that?  Basically, get your target market right and interest will become support.  The best way to do this is to offer them something in return for their investment, and investment doesn’t necessarily mean ‘money’… straight away.  Why not begin with asking them to sign up to emails in exchange for something relevant to them and the charity. e.g. The best bird spotting locations in their area or upcoming events for families.  You now have the means to communicate with them and build up a relationship, all the time reiterating your integrity and the reasons why they should support the charity.

Now that you have their interest you need to know the USP of your charity in order to tell them why they should be supporting you as opposed to another similar charity and what exactly it is that you do that makes you different.  Some examples could be:

  • All campaigning done is on a volunteer basis in the charity workers’ free time

  • 100% of donations go directly to the charity

  • Beneficiaries have a say in how the donations are spent

  • All charity workers have first hand experience of the charity’s cause

Communication is key here and works in two ways, proactive and reactive communication.  Of course you must tell people about what you do but just as great an importance is put on following up on people’s enquiries.  It is surprising how many organisations receive enquiries and offers of help and support only to let them fall by the wayside due to a lack of, or extremely late follow up.  Registering interest is the first step to becoming a supporter and it is the charity’s job to help make that transition through follow up communication via letters, calls, emails and so on and so forth so you can remind them of their interest and initial enquiry and give them the opportunity to take it further.

This brings me onto the last point of this week’s blog, using a mix of marketing to help reach a wider audience and ultimately, your goal.  The key here is variety, it is ok to send a single flyer or email but these are going to have a lot more clout when reinforced with up to date web pages, social media interaction, press articles, events and telephone calls etc.  By using all the avenues available to you, you are maximising your chances of reaching more people and the same people more than once.  Try using a different marketing method each month or quarter and collate the responses to see which is most effective.

And just because Debut Marketing is that type of company, here are a few extra tips…

  • Make it easy to donate and have a few options e.g. your website, freepost envelopes, direct debits etc.

  • Communicate the progress made by donations and show your supporters what they have helped you achieve

  • Be innovative and different, get people talking about you

  • Give tangible targets and an undeniable reason to support

  • Don’t be frightened to spend some money on good people and marketing to drive donations

  • Don’t be serious all the time – remember the positive effect you are having

Next week I would like to try something different, an interactive blog.  I want to receive comments and hear about your biggest marketing hurdles and next week I will address them in a Q&A format…who is with me?

Marketing essentials for charities

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