Marketing for a Charity

With scarce resources for both charities and donors, nowhere are their tighter reigns, but big expectations, for marketing on a budget than in the non-profit sector. 

Just before the holidays, my son and I participated in a few charity events and fundraisers. The organizations ranged from a one-time Christmas event to a local ministry trying to help families in need all year round.  I couldn't help but compare the two, in terms of their marketing efforts. In non-profit, getting the word out in an effective way - with the farthest reach - is essential to the livelihood. And that is marketing's job. Sure, it would make things much easier to run large campaigns and splash ads all around town while handing out cute promotional items.  That just isn't a reality for most charities. So I've created a list of the most effective marketing methods that require minimal costs.

1. Segmentation. As with any organization, it is so important to determine your audience segments before implementing any marketing. Determine who your current donors are and who your potential donors could be. Segment them into age, gender, location, interests and obstacles (what would hinder them from donating). You can find some of this information using the free analytical tools offered by Facebook and Twitter. Search Google for more tools. There are some that allow free trials or offer nuggets of helpful information without having to subscribe. Now you can get to work creating messages.

2. Social Media. By now, it's a no-brainer for non-profits to utilize social media. But a message is only as good as the quality of the audience. In your audience, you will have donors and influencers. You need to pay attention to both. You want your donors to remain loyal. You want influencers to engage other readers. You want them to share what you post!

3. Speaking of influencers, find some local celebrities or another popular spokesperson who would be willing to do some PR.

4. Use your non-profit clout. Google Grants offers many perks for non-profits if you apply. Also, You Tube Non-Profit Program offers assistance with branding and getting the message out.

5. Now that we've been preparing to send a message, let's work on what to include in this very important content. Which is, empathy. What? Isn't that what your audience should be showing you? Well, it works both ways. Everyone has a limited amount of money they reserve for charitable giving. They want to know exactly how much of their money is going where. What percentage is puts towards the cause? What, exactly, is it being used for? This requires some transparency. You can do this by telling real people stories. Showing pictures. Having the recipients share their own stories is most powerful. Share the hard numbers - like how much a difference your charity dollars have made - whether in goods, services, money, etc. How did you improve life? Share these through social media and email newsletters (most services offer free emails for a limited number of monthly emails - like Mailchimp).

6. Keep in touch. Don't lose touch, but don't be too pushy. There is a fine line. It doesn't hurt to send out a survey every so often to get feedback on your audience's perception of your organization as well as obtaining some helpful advice. Monkey Survey is a solid service to use.