The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
People generally have less disposable income now than they once did and as such they are less likely to donate a fraction of their constantly dwindling hard earned cash to a charitable cause. In a perfect world, charity would never need to be sold as a business, but this is far from a perfect world and with so many worthy charities vying for public attention even the more visible charities have been forced to up their game significantly in recent years.
First and foremost, door-to-door fundraising doesn’t tend to work. People feel like they are being hassled in their own homes and are generally far less willing to donate their time and money if they feel like their privacy is being invaded. Many charities have even taken to employing workers to stand on street corners, asking passersby to lend an empathetic ear. This is a slightly more effective tactic (people tend to be more receptive when they are out and about) but it is still a costly practice that doesn’t always garner results. Listed below however, are a selection of tactics through which your charity can reach the market it needs to appeal to in a cost effective manner, without making a bad name for itself in the process.
Target the Upper Classes
Its basic business (there’s that dirty word again) sense. The upper classes will have far more disposable income (and guilt) than those in the lower-middle and working classes. Profiling is an unpleasant business but it is undeniably effective, so make sure all of your major advertisements are targeted towards areas that interest the upper classes. This could involve everything from posting ads in high society magazines to sponsoring an event that caters to their interests.
Printed Media (Calendars/Flyers/Posters etc.)
Consider everything from calendar printing (especially if your charity involves animals, NOBODY can resist a cute animal calendar) to flyering, and even putting up posters in areas you think would attract an empathetic audience. Charity shops (for example) would be a perfect location for a poster campaign and flyers could be delivered in wealthier areas where charitable donations are more common. Another idea could be to start a mailing list and offer a free calendar or car sticker to those who sign up. The cost of printing and distributing these items would be small and with enough names you’d be able to compile an incredibly effective database.
Every man and his dog (well… not literally) use Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis these days and social media advertising is not only cost effective but also incredibly wide reaching. To really get ahead in the social networking game though you need to understand that social media is effectively a conversation. If you don’t actively interact, engage and converse with your followers then you might as well not be there. Research has shown that creating a personal connection with your social media followers will in turn lead to those followers feeling more ‘included’, so they themselves will start to evangelise your cause. They call it ‘viral marketing’ for a reason!
Use Your Existing Supporters More Effectively
The worst thing any organisation can do is neglect its dedicated followers. Before you put all of your effort into recruiting new members, be sure to ask yourself if you’re making the most of those who’ve already made a commitment with you. It will require far less of your time, resources and money to ask one of your existing supporters to up their donations or get more involved in the cause than it will to secure a new recruit. In the same breath though, make sure to follow up on your leads when it comes to potential new recruits. People lead busy lives so a few helpful reminders will not necessarily be seen as ‘badgering’.
Consider Your ‘USP’ and GO WITH IT!
What is it that makes your charity so much more noble and worthwhile than the next one? Make sure before you even begin your campaign that you underline exactly what it is that sets your charity apart. Recognisable branding is a start but on a deeper level, remember to constantly ask yourself why you got involved with the charity in the first place and use that passion to help sell the cause.
Bill Jobs is a midlands based UK copywriter who has volunteered for a number of charities throughout his twenties. In his experience, calendar printing and genuine, heartfelt conversation are the best tools to use in converting potential recruits.