Every now and then I see something so bad that I have to write a blog post. Above you’ll see two text messages I received this week. There was nothing about which charity this was coming from (I received them from two separate four digit codes), no ability to choose how much to give (beyond that amount or nothing), and nothing about what the money was to be spent on. This was it.
Apart from theoretically being illegal in the UAE (any fundraising needs to clearly state which charity is involved), there really was nothing good about these messages from a marketing point of view. There was no transparency about the charity or recipients, no additional information, and the misuse of a national initiative to drive giving. It was all wrong.
Charity marketing is tough; asking people to hand over their money for a product that won’t directly benefit them is much harder than commercial marketing. However, here’s a few simple steps that anyone in this sector in the Gulf should follow.
Define Your Audience(s)
The first step in any engagement is to know who to talk to. In the case of a charity these are the questions to ask:
- Who comprises your donor base? How do you know these people and what are they
getting from you?
- Who do you impact and who impacts you? Create a list of everyone
your organization comes into contact with. This list will help you determine what you should be saying to them, as well as when and how.
- How do you engage? How do you treat your audiences? How often do you send fundraising appeals, information, updates, or policy alerts? What other types of communication are you sending? And what recognition do you offer donors for their generosity?
Clearly Craft Your Call to Action
A charity appeal must spur action (preferably in the shape of a donation). An effective call to action has five necessary attributes.
- Be highly specific and realistic. Focus on a very specific action that people can understand and are able to do. The easier the request, the more likely is that it’ll be acted upon.
- Personalize your messaging. The more personal the message is, the more likely the recipient will want to act. No one likes being on a mass mailer, especially one which doesn’t use your name or specify why you’re receiving this message.
- Give donors options. Not everybody can donate. Give people choices to make a difference, through opportunities such as volunteering. Think about how you
can build your community of potential supporters.
- Make it simple. Is the contribution process easy and barrier-free? Cut out any unneccesary steps for those who want to help.
Clearly Describe the Donation
Consumers should be able to easily understand how their action will benefit a charity. Advertisements, websites and any material used to promote a donation should prominently disclose:
- The name of any charity receiving a donation, as well as the mission of the
organization if it is not readily apparent by the name.
- The benefit the charity will receive from the donation.
- Who or what the charity will be spending the money on.
There’s much more to it than the above, but I hope it’ll help you get the basics right. If you need more information, then please do drop me a note and I’ll send over further information on charity marketing best practices (this list of 10 great charity marketing campaigns is a good place to start being inspired).