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  • Writer's pictureEunae

You are a Charity. Should you advertise?

Whether yours is a small charity – set up with a finite aim, such as restoring a museum roof – or a large one tackling national, or even global issues, its success will depend on people knowing it exists.

In this sense, charities are no different from commercial businesses – they have to fight for a share of the public’s money and support – and advertising and marketing are key to this.

So, how do charities promote themselves? Well, the first step is to determine what you want – is it money, support in the shape of members or volunteers, or both?

Then you need to define your target audience and this depends on your specific needs. If you are very much a local charity – addressing needs or issues within a small and clearly defined geographical area - then there is no point embarking on the sort of wide-reaching marketing and advertising campaign a health or heritage charity, for example, may opt for.

What is charity marketing?

Charity marketing is, in its simplest sense, the same as any other form of marketing. It’s making people aware of what you do, why you do it and how they can support you. And, why is marketing important for a charity? It’s important because charities are reliant on goodwill – whether that takes the form of donations or time.

So, how do you make a start?

Regardless of the size or scope of your charity, you need to apply professionalism and so it is worth using the commercial sector as your guide.

Most serious businesses ensure they have a website, a company logo and branding and you should follow suit.

They will have signage on their premises, they will have business cards and they will have leaflets or brochures outlining what they offer. This is often referred to as marketing collateral and at the very least it should bear the name of the charity, a brief description of its aims, contact details, such as a phone number, email address and website and, crucially, how donations can be made.

This printed material serves several purposes. On the one hand, the fact the charity has gone to the trouble of creating it shows it is reassuringly professional and committed. And, on the other, it gives potential donors something to take away, consider and refer to. In short, it conveys permanence in a way that social media posts – which are, by their nature, instant and fleeting – can’t.

Also, by keeping your branding consistent across all your printed materials you are continually reenforcing your message.

So, when a person has received your flyer through the door, and then see your charity collectors – with their branded boxes - in the street, or seen your liveried van, they will begin to recognise your name and a sense of familiarity will develop.

Marketing relies on repetition as much as anything. In identifying your market and then communicating with them. Not just once, but frequently.

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