Charities are often the last refuge of hope for people who have slipped through the cracks. They provide a much-needed safety net, offering resources, money, and reassurance to the people who need it the most. Sometimes, people who run charitable organizations shy away from the idea of marketing or branding their companies because it seems to run counter to the good work they do. However, the opposite is actually true. All charities need to find ways to attract donors, and the single best way to do that is through effective branding.
What Does a Charity’s Brand Need to Convey?
A charity’s brand must do an excellent job of conveying its mission. You want people who see your logo to understand, as fully as possible, what it is you do. After all, you’re expecting donors to write you a check or offer up their credit card. To get them to do that, you must make sure that they know what you will do with the money they give you.
How to Convey Compassion and Trustworthiness
The key to branding a charity effectively is to come up with a logo and brand identity that immediately give the impression that your organization is:
- Compassionate – a good charity logo should elicit emotion in the people who see it
- Trustworthy – likewise, your logo should reassure potential donors that you can be trusted to use their donations wisely
A logo that does both things can do so with a combination of shapes, fonts, and colors. The color yellow is often associated with kindness and compassion, as well as with creativity. Orange conveys excitement and warmth, while pink is closely associated with femininity. A good example of pink being used in a charity logo is the logo for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is a stylized version of the pink ribbon used for breast cancer awareness.
How Your Logo Can Help Convey Your Charity’s Mission
The logo you choose should help donors understand the work you do as quickly as possible. This logo that we designed for Change for Change is a good example of that. This is a charity that helps people organize spare change drives and use the money raised to help people around the world. The logo uses two main colors, blue and gold. Blue represents trust and stability, while gold – a shade of yellow — represents kindness and creativity while also suggesting money. The “C” in the logo evokes the symbol used for cents, thus echoing the charity’s primary mission of using small donations to make a big difference.
Other elements that appear here are a shape that suggests a pile of coins, and the image of a smiling child. The total impression made by this logo is one of creative problem solving and reliability – a great combination for a charity.
How to Make Your Charity Memorable
When people decide to make a charitable donation, they have plenty of organizations to choose from. Some charities are local and are therefore in competition with other local charities for donations. Others take a more global approach and have more competition as a result. Either way, the only way to get the donations you need is to do a good job of making your organization memorable. You can do that by following these three steps.
Know Your Competition
What other charities are the people who are likeliest to give to you also considering? Answering that question is the key to defining your competition. There are a variety of metrics to consider, including:
- Geographical location – are you competing with other local charities?
- Mission – are you raising money for a cause that’s similar to other charities?
- Beneficiaries – are you helping a similar demographic to other charities?
For example, a charity that is dedicated to collecting food and distributing it to people who need it might be in competition with other food banks in their area. You might want to consider doing a donor survey to determine who your competition is, or simply do Google searches to learn about similar charities.
Identify What Makes You Special
When you know who your competition is, the next step is to figure out what makes you different from other organizations. You might be collecting non-perishable food, but perhaps your mission is distributing food to veterans who need it, while another food bank in your area might focus on feeding families with small children.
You might ask yourself a series of questions to help you narrow your focus when it comes to branding:
- What do we do that nobody else does?
- Do we do things in a different way from other charities?
- Are we helping a group of people or supporting a cause that is unique?
Answering these questions can help you determine the qualities that make your organization special – and that can help you brand yourself effectively.
Create Donor Personas
After you have pinpointed your competition and articulated what makes your organization unique, it’s time to create a donor persona. A donor persona is a description of what your typical donor looks like. For example, you might find that the majority of your donors are married with children, or that they live within a 50 mile radius of your organization. You might also figure out that your donors mostly drive fuel-efficient vehicles or recycle. All of this information can be used to create profiles of the people who donate to you – and you can use those profiles to determine the most effective marketing techniques to use.
Marketing Your Charity
When it comes to soliciting donations, the key is figuring out which marketing tactics are most likely to appeal to your target donors. You have to find a way to make your mission stand out, and in a way that engages donors’ emotions and makes them reach for their wallets.
How to Craft the Right Marketing Plan to Fulfill Your Mission
A marketing plan is a blueprint for how you will market your organization and attract donors. To build an effective marketing plan, you have to start with the big picture and work your way down to the smallest details. Here are the four steps to follow to do that:
- Identify your marketing goals. You might express your goal in terms of dollars if you simply want to increase your donations. Alternatively, you could express it in terms of your mission, saying that you want to help a certain number of people in a particular timeframe.
- Come up with a marketing strategy. Your strategy is an overview of the particular tools and methods you intend to use to achieve your goals. You might decide that social media marketing is going to be the cornerstone of your strategy, or that creating videos is your primary focus.
- Decide which marketing tactics to use – the specific things you intend to do to carry out your strategy and achieve your goals. An example of a marketing tactic might be creating a Pinterest board showcasing the ways you have helped people.
- Allocate your marketing budget to allow you to reach your goals. You have to be smart about where you spend your money, especially when you are relying on donors to fund what you do. Your completed marketing plan should articulate where and how you will spend your marketing budget.
Where to Find Your Donors
Part of determining your marketing strategy and budget is understanding where your donors are most likely to spend their time online. If you determine that the majority of your current donors have Facebook accounts, it makes a lot of sense to focus your social media marketing on Facebook. Likewise, if you realize that a significant portion of your donors support progressive political causes, you might decide to advertise on influential blogs and news sites with a progressive bent.
Think of this exercise as akin to target practice. You’re unlikely to hit the target if you can’t see it. Taking the time to learn about your donors is an important part of marketing to them.
How to Use Your Logo to Attract New Donors
When you have a compelling logo, you can use it in a variety of ways to attract new donors. Your logo represents who you are as an organization. You might decide to do one or more of the following:
- Use your logo as your profile picture or cover image on social media
- Make your logo your avatar when commenting online
- Create merchandise featuring your logo
- Encourage your followers to get creative with your logo and create variations of it
Any of these ideas might help increase potential donors’ awareness of your brand and create the sense of trust and purpose that convinces them to make a donation.
Content Marketing Ideas for Charities
What kinds of things can you do to help attract donors? Content marketing involves creating or sharing content that informs and moves your target audience. When it comes to soliciting donations, it is extremely important to use the kind of content that elicits emotion. Here are some ideas to try:
- Tell stories about how the donations you collect have helped people. The stories you tell should make potential donors feel that their donation will make a difference to people who need it or to a cause that matters to them. You might tell your stories using various formats, including words, photographs, and videos.
- Create personal events to help people raise money on your behalf. One classic example of this is the organization charity: water, which allows its donors to create campaigns to encourage people to give donations in lieu of birthday gifts or holiday presents. This is a great way to solicit user-generated content and also exponentially increase your brand awareness and reach.
- Partner with well-known brands to create merchandise that supports your organization. The best example of this type of marketing is used by companies who support breast cancer research. During the month of October, multiple brands offer merchandise inspired by the pink ribbon logo and donate at least a portion of the proceeds to charity.
- Ask donors to share stories about why they chose to support your cause, and then share them on your website or on social media. Charitable giving is a personal thing, so take advantage of that and make your content as personal as possible.
These are just a few ideas you can use to market your charity. However, even the most well-thought-out marketing strategy can have flaws. The final step in any marketing campaign is figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Fine-Tuning Your Fundraising Campaigns
It’s pretty rare to get a marketing campaign 100% right. Even experienced marketers make missteps. The key to maximizing your donations is to use analytical tools to figure out which aspects of your campaign aren’t working and then improve them. The process is a simple one.
- Analyze the performance of your campaigns, including click-through rates and donations, using Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and other tools. Identify the campaigns and tactics that aren’t performing up to your expectations.
- Come up with a hypothesis about how to improve each element you identified. For example, you might conclude that the headline on your Facebook ad could be more compelling and come up with an alternative.
- Use split testing software to test your hypothesis. As a rule, you should test for at least one week and at least 100 impressions. It’s important to get results that are statistically valid, and you can’t do that if you only test for two or three days.
It’s extremely important to test only one thing at a time. If you test the wording of your headline, leave everything else as it was, including your fonts and colors. After the test is over, if your results improve you can update the tested element and move on to the next test. Over time, this method will ensure that you are getting the largest possible return on your investment.
Marketing and branding is just as important for charities as it is for any for-profit company. A charity that does a good job of conveying its mission and appealing to potential donors is far more likely to be successful – and to achieve its goals – than one that ignores branding.