How to promote your charity on a limited budget

Planning a marketing campaign can be tough at the best of times. But the challenge really increases when you’re trying to promote a charity that relies on donations and has a limited budget for marketing.

It may be difficult, but it’s not impossible! This article will give you a step-by-step guide through the journey, including where to focus your effort and which pitfalls you need to avoid.

Who is your audience?

Who are the people who currently engage with your charity? Use every tool available to find out their income, social background, location, age and interests. If your charity has a website, Google Analytics can give you detailed demographic information about your visitors. Social networks (especially Facebook) are also a gold mine of user data – gender, age, interests and so on.

Get top know your customers inside-out. Once you have a deep understanding of your potential donors, you can tailor your messaging accordingly.

What is your marketing target?

You can’t win a race if you don’t know where the finish line is! Decide what you want to achieve and let that choice guide everything else you do. This will make your campaign easier to manage and will help cut down on unnecessary spending.

Try asking your team (or yourself) the following questions. Do you:

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

Remember to keep your objectives precise, measurable and realistic. Anything can be achieved with a clear goal and a plan.

What is your key message?

While you’re having your ‘main aim’ meeting, why not decide on your key message and save yourself time? A good key message perfectly sums up your campaign and charity. Think short and snappy, then draft ideas regarding what you want to do to achieve your marketing goal using your key message as the central theme.

While you’re having your initial planning meeting, why not save yourself some time by deciding on your key message?

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

Can you gather case studies as well? Real life stories and images that show how your work has made a positive impact on people’s lives will do wonders. Contact people, take photos or even do a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity. Good photos and case studies make excellent material for pamphlets and leaflets that you can distribute around your local area. After all, showing people what you can do is far more effective than simply telling them.

How do you create effective content?

With the internet and social media playing an increasingly large role in marketing, there’s going to be a big move into video. Consider creating video content as part of your campaign to make it fresh and help with engagement.

Photography is also crucial to creating an eye-catching campaign. But photos and videos are nothing without strong, emotive and informative written content to support them. Make sure your copy is punchy and powerful with a clear key message — such as: ‘Likes don’t save lives’ from UNICEF Sweden or ‘Help is a four-legged word’ from Canine Companions. Strong taglines like these jump off the page. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

Your messaging should stay positive and optimistic, even if you are dealing with serious or frightening subject matter. Keep your language conversational and informal — as if you were chatting to someone in person. Stuffy language and an impersonal tone doesn’t equal a superior strategy.

How can you spread your message?

Even in this digital age, print marketing is still essential. Striking images work well on billboards and posters, rather than on social media and emails where they’re easy to ignore or delete. According to a report by the Institute of Fundraising, around 80% of charitable donations come from direct mail. The same report noted that print inspires loyalty, with more than half of the people surveyed saying that they find print the most credible marketing channel, and a quarter keeping printed products for future reference.

Of course, you shouldn’t completely disregard social media – after all it’s an open, free platform for your campaign. Use 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.

We recommend a mixture of print and digital marketing to achieve the best results. As print is such a popular medium for charities, many design & print agencies have close ties with charities and non-profit organisations. In other words, don’t be afraid of asking for a discount.

Are there any alternatives to get funding?

Most of what we’ve already discussed can be achieve with very minimal spending. However if you would prefer a little extra cash to help boost your campaign, here are some interesting facts about various fundraising avenues you can utilise:

  • Approximately 28% of lottery ticket sales are donated to charities.
  • According to Company Giving, funds from the general public account for about 35% of voluntary sector income. 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).
  • Local government bodies allocate funds to various charities, but the level of budget and support differs depending on where your organisation is based. Browse a list of local authorities for more information.
  • Since donating boosts goodwill and staff morale, corporate donations are growing in popularity.
  • Grant-making foundations donate billions of pounds to charitable causes and there are thousands to choose from across the UK.

We hope these charity marketing tips have made planning and creating your own easier. There’s a lot more advice available online, so be sure to do plenty of research before you get started.


About the Author

Article produced by UK commercial printing company and roll-up banner specialist, Where The Trade Buys.