If you’re running a charity, it may not feel as if you’re selling anything that needs promotion, but, actually, you are. A charity needs to attract funding to underpin its work, and it also needs to locate beneficiaries—the right beneficiaries—to support.
If you don’t tell anyone about your charity you would attract neither.
Marketing creates a bridge between a supplier and its end user. When done well, it can create the illusion of a solid, sturdy bridge that leads to buckets full of benefits/outcomes. Done poorly, it presents a rickety path to nowhere.
Marketing can instil confidence or present confusion.
A charity needs to show anyone requiring its support that they’re in safe hands. It needs to confirm to trust-making organisations and donors that any money they give will be spent wisely and will bring about the outcomes promised. It needs to offer assurance. It needs the sturdy bridge.
So, in which circumstances would marketing be a benefit for a charity?
You may not see case studies as ‘marketing’, but they absolutely are. They’re a great way for charities to demonstrate the impact their support has made to a beneficiary’s life. They detail the who, why, what, when and how.
If your charity plans to hold a fundraising event, marketing is crucial. The last thing you’d want after all your effort is a lack of bodies in the space you’ve hired and/or an insignificant amount raised at the end of the night.
Return on investment
It’s important to view marketing as a tool. If you have any costs associated with your marketing, the outcome of said action should produce a return. How much of a return may depend on the type of marketing you’re undertaking; however, a good rule of thumb is that any marketing spend should be recouped, directly or indirectly, up to five times the amount of initial spend. So, if you spent £50 on some flyers advertising your coffee morning, you should expect to raise £250. This is an average projection—sometimes you’ll raise more, other times you may recoup less. The more you employ marketing strategies, you’ll likely see fewer duds/marketing actions that don’t reap enough reward.
Your front window
If your charity were a shop, it would have a front window to entice customers in. It would display the products/service you sell, so that people on the outside would know what they would receive if they were to step inside.
It’s the same with your charity, even if it doesn’t have a physical office. Marketing acts as your front window to the world, presenting your offering to donors, referrers, beneficiaries, the media and the wider world.
When you consider how many different charities exist just in the UK, it’s no easy task to attract the eyes of the world on you. Charities that don’t engage with any marketing activity will undoubtedly take a back seat to those that do.
Now that you know how important marketing is to a charity, it’s wise to set out some sort of plan, to reduce the risk of your promotional actions being a waste of your time and money.
Ascertain the type of help you may need; for example:
Are you looking to get more eyes on your website? Perhaps you need to employ a SEO specialist to ensure your site sits high in search results. Maybe you need a marketing agency who can create a social media plan and create backlinks to your site.
Does the charity need more visibility? A PR specialist could prove a wise investment; they will secure column inches for your charity in offline publications as well as ensure your cause is spread across various webpages, too.
Do you need to get more bums on seats to your event? Again, a marketing agency would be a good move; they can use various tools and techniques to ensure details of your events hits the people you’re trying to get to.
Are you looking for more funding? A bid specialist like myself would bring their own return on investment. They will gather crucial information about your charity and write an effective funding application for you to submit to grant-making organisations and trusts. They will still market and present your charity, but in a more subtle manner. They will dress your shop window, so to speak, so that it’s attractive to the funder, and so that it meets the funding framework of the grant organisation.
Whilst it may be tempting to save costs and go down the DIY marketing route, just remember that, in every element of life, you get what you pay for. Whilst you may not incur as much in costs than if you engaged the professionals, you will take longer to reach a result, which will likely be a shadow of what the experts could bring you.