The ancient art of charity marketing comes of age

Jan 16, 2010 by Mark Baines Category: Marketing 0 comments

Charities have been doing it for ages – literally. I bet you didn’t know that the first recorded DM piece for a charity was in 1235 – in Japan!

It even contained a neat little incentive. So much for us all thinking we are pioneering pathfinders!

But things are moving forwards. The demise of mailings for charity (by the way, some charities are still doing them very successfully, before you become completely despondent) has led to chugging as the preferred option, which in turn is leading to the rise of householder doorstep donations – up 32% in 2006 and rising fast.

The fact that charities now take marketing very seriously is seen in the number which rebranded in the past two years – 31%. What’s more, 40% of charities now use external agencies and consultants to supplement their marketing teams.

So here’s the lowdown on what differentiates charity marketing from commercial marketing:

1. People give to people, not to organisations, mission statements or strategies. So make all your communications specific, personal and one-to-one.

2. Take care of disgruntled donors. The most loyal donor is the one who has complained and then received a satisfactory response.

3. Present your organisation’s brand image clearly and consistently. The market is crowded – it’ll pay if your donors can readily distinguish your cause from all the others.

4. Don’t forget what the nature of a charity donor is: kind and engaged, these people don’t appreciate being lied to and are turned off by overly slick marketing. Keep it down to earth and be frank about difficulties as well as successes.

5. Don’t be a nuisance, or make potential donors feel guilty. Raising money is more about inspiring than asking – it should be the truth, well told.

We can’t all be Bono, but we can all make a difference, with a little care and a large dash of common sense and experience. Do it, and you will find yourself rewarded.

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