Marketing a charity: how to make a success of it on a budget

Marketing a charity: how to make a success of it on a budget

Even with limited funds, you can create a successful campaign. Often overlooked, non-profit organisations, such as charities, face the same issues when it comes to designing and executing a successful campaign, yet, they typically have less capital to support them along the way.

Regardless of your charity’s goal, this marketing guide will show you how to carry out a credible marketing campaign without breaking the bank.


Getting funding

Here are some of the best ways to get funding for your marketing campaign:

  • Business: making donations boost staff morale, which could be why corporate donations are growing in popularity.
  • Public: there are plenty of government-introduced measures, such as: Gift Aid (charities can claim back tax from donations) and Payroll Giving (employees donate automatically from their monthly wage), to encourage donations. According to Company Giving, funds from the general public account for about 35% of voluntary sector income.
  • Local government: authorities in your local area will apportion money to various charities. However, this differs depending on where your organisation is based. Browse a list of local authorities for more information.
  • Lottery: almost 30% of lottery ticket sales are donated to charities.
  • Trusts: there are thousands of trusts to choose from across the UK and these give billions of pounds to charitable causes.

Know your audience and environment

Before you do anything with your marketing idea, it’s crucial that you carry out extensive research so you know exactly what you need to do in order to make your campaign a success. You must understand your audience, know your marketing objective, and be aware of social and economic factors that might affect people donating to your organisation. No matter what issues you discover you face, being aware means that you have a much greater chance of overcoming them without having to start over, which is costly.
Who do you want to target? How old are they? What matters to them? What do they like and dislike? What type of places do they enjoy visiting? Research your target audience to find out their interests, likes and motivations to help you create a marketing strategy that they’ll want to engage with. You can do this for free by using your website’s analytics and metrics, checking out social media accounts, or via a postal survey.


Your marketing strategy’s goal should guide every decision you make — from what style of pull-up banner you want to where you’ll place it to capture their attention. Not only will this make your campaign easier to manage, but it’ll also prevent unnecessary spending and increase your chances of success. Anything is achievable as long as everyone on the campaign is moving towards the same goal. Just remember to make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Key message

Now, you need a sharp, memorable message to drive your campaign. Then, draft ideas regarding what you want to do to achieve your marketing goal.

Story-telling is a good tactic of successful marketing campaigns. Some of the most powerful charity marketing campaigns have succeeded due to how they tell a story pertaining to the organisation. 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.

Think: how has your charity’s work improved lives? 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 leaflets that you can post around your local area. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

How to spread your campaign

Social networking platforms are typically very useful at promoting campaigns — and they’re free, so use them as much as you can! 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.

Alternatively, print marketing is excellent at targeting a localised area (both demographically and geographically). Products including leaflets and brochures are ideal. 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.

Then again, why not combine print and digital? Since print is such a popular marketing channel for charities, many design and print agencies work closely and often with non-profit organisations. So, don’t hold back from getting in touch and discussing your options.


Strong images and video content are great for getting across a message, and you can take these yourself using your smartphone. However, pictures are nothing without emotive and informative copy. Make sure your content is punchy 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 like flyers and posters. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

Keep a friendly, chatty, familiar, and light-hearted tone throughout to help your marketing message engage with your audience.

Clearly, there are plenty of opportunities to boost your next charity marketing campaign without blowing your budget!


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