Design and launch a successful charity marketing strategy on a budget

We often associate marketing campaigns with large budgets and commercial companies. However, it’s just as, or even more, important for charitable organisations to market and promote what they do in order to raise awareness. Unfortunately, charities often have less capital to support them along the way.

Looking for tips on marketing a charity on a tight budget? This guide will help you design and launch a successful charity marketing campaign with limited funds.

Who are you targeting?

You’ll get nowhere if you don’t spend time and effort researching your campaign’s target audience. Are there any economic factors that might affect people donating to your organisation? If so, bear these in mind, and remember: no matter what issues you discover, knowing what they are is a critical step to overcoming them without having to start over — which is costly.

Of course, target audience research doesn’t have to be costly, in fact, it can sometimes be free. Start by researching current donors 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 no charge by using your website’s analytics and metrics, checking out social media accounts, or via an email survey.

What marketing aims do you want to achieve?

Once you’re certain you know your audience, you must now decide on your goals — what is it that you want to gain from this campaign? Decide what you want to achieve and let that choice guide everything else you do. Not only will this make your campaign easier to manage, but it’ll also prevent unnecessary spending.

Here are a few popular goals for charity marketers:

  • Attract more regular donors.
  • Hit a fundraising target.
  • Improve awareness of organisation.
  • Enhance online presence.

Clear targets and a collective goal makes anything achievable in marketing. Just remember to also make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Describe you marketing message

Your marketing message summarises your campaign, including the issue you want to solve, the answer that you propose and the action the audience can take. The best campaign messages are clear and give your campaign a personality to set it apart from the rest — just as a commercial business would to beat the competition. So, draft ideas regarding what you want to do to achieve your marketing goal.

When you’re planning your campaign material, always consult your marketing message — will what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it and the ways in which you want people to get involved be likely? Creating a narrative and giving your charity a ‘face’ seems to work well for other non-profit organisations. 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. Try collecting case studies of how your work has improved lives by conducting interviews, taking photos, and even creating a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity. Place these on your social media accounts or get them professionally printed and posted around the area. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

Campaign content, language and tone of voice

Content includes text, video, imagery, and more. However, the words and tone you adopt to speak to your audience will have a significant impact on the level of their engagement.

Maintain a chatty, familiar and light-hearted manner throughout your content to engage with your audience, but also create content that is pithy and powerful. Taglines jump off print marketing products like posters and flyers and can help to get your campaign noticed quicker.

Remember to avoid stuffy language, superior tones and a downcast spirit — be hopeful and encourage people to get on board with your campaign to make a positive change!

Methods for distributing your campaign material

Social media and online platforms have been extremely handy for non-profit organisations when it comes to camping promotion. Free-to-use social networks are typically successful at promoting charitable organisations. For example; 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.

But this is no excuse to omit print marketing from your campaign — not everybody spends hours online and many prefer the personal approach of print. If you want to reach people with something tangible that they can take their time reading and hold on to afterwards, how about print marketing materials such as posters, pamphlets and pull-up banners? 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.

Since print is such a popular marketing channel for charities, some agencies offer discounts, so it’s worth checking.

Avenues for additional funding

If you’d prefer to pocket additional funding prior to the campaign or feel you need a cash injection during, try the following sources:

  • The general public: according to Company Giving, funds from the general public account for a third of voluntary sector income Corporations: businesses are often pleased to donate to charities to boost staff morale.
  • UK trusts: these donate billions of pounds to.
  • Businesses: corporate donations are popular in the UK today.
  • Governmental organisations: try your local government. But bear in mind that the level of funding changes depending on where your organisation is based. Browse a list of local authorities for more information.
  • Lottery: around 28% of lottery ticket sales are given to charitable organisations.


Bear these money-saving tips in mind when you’re designing your charity’s next strategy.