Because you work within your organisation it’s easy for you to understand why you do what you do, who you help, and the impact of your charity’s support. The people whose support you need to carry out your good work, however—such as donors, volunteers and funders—won’t have the same knowledge as you. You therefore need to educate them.
You will likely do this via your marketing efforts, e.g. posting content across your social media profiles, sending newsletters on a regular basis, or posting leaflets to their homes.
I’m sure you’d agree that doing this on a regular basis can become a little stale. After all, how many different ways can you say the same thing? How often can you trot out the same message?
Successful media campaigns are often very simple and are just framed in a way the public can easily understand and relate to. But, if your organisation doesn’t have a creative media team or PR department in house, how can you find innovative, fresh ways to frame your messages?
There is one way that’s proved effective time and time again—piggy-backing on an existing news story. This can underpin your story and add exponential power to your message.
For example, the whole of the UK was shocked when Christian Eriksen collapsed during a World Cup match back in June. He was young and fit and apparently healthy—how could he have been so close to death?
This terrible incident helped one charity raise much-needed funds to install defibrillators in public places. Whilst no one from the organisation would have wished for Eriksen to suffer such an experience, it did result in a PR opportunity. Capitalising on the unfortunate event was not cruel or poor taste—it saved lives.
Eriksen was brought back to life at the edge of the pitch with a defibrillator. The charity said to their supporters, ‘Christian Eriksen’s life was saved because a defibrillator machine was on hand when it was needed. Please donate what you can and help us put more of these machines in public places. Help us save even more lives.’ Their income grew by 40% in the weeks after his collapse.
It doesn’t have to be a news story that you piggy-back with your marketing efforts. There are National Days and Awareness Days galore, covering every day of the week; you can use these as the basis of your marketing messages in exactly the same way as Eriksen’s experience, or as a prompt when your inspiration for new content dries up.
For instance, February 2nd is ‘National Girls and Women in Sports Day’. Charities that work on gender equality and organisations that support people with disabilities could both use February 2nd as a day to educate their audiences—there may even be collaboration possibilities with other charities/organisations to whom this day is important.
Here are other examples:
June 1st is Global Running Day – ripe for motivational, inspirational and educational messages from organisations in the health sector
August 30th is National Grief Awareness Day – most charities would be able to incorporate this topic in their marketing
October 19th is National New Friends Day – the perfect opportunity to talk about the impact of social isolation
There are also wackier options on the National Days calendar. Though these may require some creative thought, they could still prove a good prompt for your cause. Such as:
January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day – a great reminder for arts-based organisations of how grey the world would be if the arts didn’t exist
May 1st is National Lemonade Day – have you heard the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons…’? This could invite some motivational messages about picking yourself up and carrying on (with the help and support of your charitable organisation, of course)
July 3rd is National Compliment Your Mirror Day – this could underpin a successful campaign for mental health and body positive charities
Do you see how easy it is?
There are more than 150 National/Awareness Days each month that could provide the perfect fodder for your marketing campaigns. They also give you an opportunity to talk about your usual messages in a different way. For example, a mental health charity may discuss a person’s inner voice and how we should be kinder to ourselves. An important message but (dare I say it?) an empty one to people who aren’t your beneficiaries. Using the July 3rd example, people outside the organisation can picture being in front of their mirror and saying nice things to their reflection; they can better understand, through this act, how this might impact their self-esteem. This may frame the message much more powerfully than how you normally explain the issue.
Market research is helpful here. It’s easy to assume from your side of the fence, working within your organisation, that the words you use and the way you explain your particular brand of support is easily understood. However, this may not be the case at all, and you may leave the curious with even more questions. Make it a regular exercise to ask each of your audiences how they found out about your work and what appealed to them—and if they believe there could be better ways to educate people/pass on information. Because, if your message can be honed, framed or built upon, why wouldn’t you do that? It could lead to more funding, more helping hands, and more people knowing about your work.
Also remember that what works for one person may not work for the next. We all have our different preferences and learning styles. Having a varied arsenal of marketing messages, which prompts such as the National Days calendar could give you, is therefore prudent.