How is it possible to launch and run a successful marketing campaign on a tight budget? A common misconception is that marketing demands unlimited cash to prove successful — fortunately, for charities, this is not true.

This guide is designed to show how you can follow a few simple, cost-effective steps to achieve marketing success on a budget.

What’s you main marketing aim?

At the top of your agenda should be determining your marketing aim. Decide what you want to achieve and let that choice guide everything else you do to help you save on unnecessary spending.

Whether you have a clear idea in your mind or not, it’s a good idea to ask your team what they believe the marketing goal should be. Do you need to improve your organisation’s online authority? Attract more regular donors? Hit a fundraising target? Whatever it is, you can achieve it. Just remember to make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Who will you aim your campaign at?

Thankfully, there are plenty of free ways you can discover more about the audience you wish to target as part of your campaign. Knowing your target audience is key to ensuring that you don’t let avoidable factors harm your campaign is to know about them beforehand — learn about your key audience (i.e. who you want to attract the interest of) until you know them inside out.

Social media is free and you can use your accounts to research your charity’s current followers. This includes their likes, interests, ages, gender, and more to help you create decent marketing content that they might like to see from your campaign. Google Analytics (if your charity’s website has it) can tell you about your current donors’ behaviour, age and gender, while free-to-use Facebook lets you see exactly who is liking your posts. 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. Fire off a survey to these contacts for a better understanding of who they are. Or, organise a postal survey.

Have you chosen a marketing message?

At this point, we reach one of the toughest stages of designing an excellent marketing campaign: the message. This differs from your campaign goal, as it’s more to do with: the issue you want to solve, the answer that you propose and the action the audience can take. A good key message is short and snappy — and perfectly sums up your campaign and charity.

Similar to commercial companies, your message should indicate what makes you different. Work this out and show it as part of your message. 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 that help to personalise the campaign over similar charities.

The goal is to engage with your audience, so why not shoot or photograph a case study to show your audience what you do and what you want them to help you achieve? True 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 roll-up banners that you can post and place around your local area. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

How can you create effective content?

Content does not only refer to text — campaign content can include everything from billboards and Facebook posts, to YouTube videos and Instagram photos. Imagery is essential and you should try to use graphics, pictures and filmed content as often as possible throughout your campaign.

Although you should try to incorporate a mix of content in your campaign, no photo or video is as effective if it isn’t accompanied by powerful copy. Make sure your content is pithy 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. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

Understandably, light-hearted language and a chatty, informal persona does not always fit when describing a concerning issue in society. However, this doesn’t mean that your content should not be friendly, informal and hopeful — think of it as if you were chatting to someone in person. Stuffy language and an impersonal tone doesn’t equal a superior strategy, regardless of subject.

Which strategies will you choose to spread your campaign?

Many marketers might believe that this stage of the process is the most costly. However, there are ways around forking out cash just to spread your campaign. Firstly, 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 and 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.

Of course, don’t make the mistake of forgetting your audience who aren’t active on social media. 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. Ring a few printing agencies to see if you can negotiate a good price — many will try to help if it’s for charity.

Do you need additional funding?

Bearing the above tips in mind, you should be safe from overspending with your next marketing strategy. However, if you’d prefer to have extra cash just in case, there are plenty of avenues to head down. Funds from the general public account for about 35% of voluntary sector income, while government-introduced measures — such as Gift and Payroll Giving — incite people to donate even more. Local government bodies and grant-making foundations allocate funds to various charities, but there are also corporation donations that many companies encourage to boost staff morale.


Keep these steps in mind when launching your next campaign and ensure you save vital cash.



Charity fundraising and print: the importance of direct mail [INFOGRAPHIC]

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