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The Importance of Marketing for Small Charities

Posted by Ethan Bresnett

As of October 2018, there were 168,186 registered charities in the UK and for smaller charities, marketing is an essential way to make sure that you stand out. Working in a marketing role within a small charity does come with some challenges, but there are various low-cost ways to utilise marketing tools and techniques to increase engagement, promote your charity’s cause and raise awareness to achieve your organisation’s goals.

Smaller charities have smaller departments, which means most roles available are ‘all-rounder’ roles, with the opportunity to pitch in on different aspects of marketing within your organisation. While large organisations may have a designated digital marketing manager, or 3 or 4 marketing managers with split responsibilities, small charities tend to have one manager who covers all aspects of the organisation’s marketing, including digital, website, print and social media.

Marketing in any organisation is dependent on the funding available, which is a challenge faced by small charities. When it comes to the charitable sector, funding depends on the target audience, the cause of the charity and how established they are. For example, an organisation like Age UK has a healthy income stream in the form of legacy fundraising, while other charity funding is more campaign and events focused. Smaller charities, in particular, may rely on community fundraising in the form of buckets, small partnerships and small community events.

Marketing is an incredibly important tool for any organisation, but smaller charities need to ensure they market their brand and cause more often. If Cancer Research stopped marketing for a year they would no doubt still receive funds and donations due to their reputation and size, but this would not be the same for small charities. Therefore, it is especially important for those smaller charities to utilise the funding available to them and make the most out of the low-cost marketing opportunities out there to increase engagement, promote their cause and raise awareness.

So, what marketing tools and opportunities are available for smaller charities?

There is a huge amount of scope for charities to excel online, and digital marketing has changed the face of charity fundraising in recent years. Charities like the British Heart Foundation and the NSPCC have paved the way for better website experiences and mobile apps for charities. Of course, smaller charities have a smaller budget to work with, but digital marketing can be a very wise investment as it is a cost-effective way to reach the largest audience possible. Digital marketing allows your charity to reach both a national and international audience and techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) - the process through which your organisation can improve visibility in Google search results - can help your charity to be found online. SEO, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and social media marketing are all marketing techniques that can highlight your cause, drive traffic to your website and enable your charity to speak to and engage with a huge number of supporters globally.

Charities tend to underutilise social media, although recent years have seen charities using social media more and more to reach new audiences. Ian Hurlock, director of customer experience at Lightful, a social media management platform for charities adds that social media allows charities to “be more creative while reaching goals”. A strong social media presence is a good way for small charities to increase awareness and engagement from supporters, and it doesn’t cost much! Challenges as the #MannequinChallenge and the #IceBucketChallenge are examples that demonstrate the power of social media as a means of digital fundraising for charities.

There are, of course, opportunities for paid social media advertising to strengthen your charity’s online presence, but there are many free or low-cost ways to utilise channels as well, from customised filters to trending hashtags and video content. According to the haysmacintyre / Charity Finance 100 Index, which analyses how UK charities use different networks, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms for charities. Don’t restrict your charity to just one online site, make sure to utilise as many channels as possible (as long as they are channels that play to your charity’s strengths) including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube.

There are also opportunities for charities to get free or low-cost marketing support from a huge range of companies, including the social media management tool Sprout Social and email marketing tool MailChimp which offer discounts for charities. Additionally, there is support available from huge brands like Microsoft, Google and YouTube including:

  • G Suite for Nonprofits which helps your organisation to collaborate more effectively with smart, secure business apps like Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive and Hangouts Meet

  • Google Ad Grants which allows your charity to reach more donors online, raise awareness and recruit volunteers with in-kind advertising on Google Search

  • YouTube Nonprofit Program which enables you to engage supporters with video content, reaching a global audience and amplifying your cause

  • Google Earth and Maps which allows you to develop compelling data visualisations to track and share your charity’s impact

  • Microsoft for Nonprofits which offers a range of products for free for NGOs and charities to help you get the most out of technology

Corporate partnerships are another great way for smaller charities to get reach and engagement, as well as additional funding and support. More and more UK companies are moving away from one-off donations towards long-term partnerships with charities, and here at Pro, we have recently voted for our new corporate partnership with CALM, a small charity leading a movement against male suicide.

To conclude, marketing can be an essential tool to ensure that your small charity stands out. Whether this is investing time and funding into digital marketing, utilising techniques such as SEO or social media marketing across various channels, or making the most out of the free or low-cost marketing tools available to you, there are various ways in which you can increase engagement, promote your charity’s cause and raise awareness.

For more information on this article, or if you are looking for a Marketing professional to join your small charity, contact Ethan on 020 7269 6362 or ethan.bresnett@pro-recruitment.co.uk.

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