Charities must embrace new methods

Charity money collection boxesMarketers are increasingly adept at anticipating and responding to consumer behaviour across most sectors, but, in charity marketing, they don’t seem to be using insight and technology as efficiently as they could. As a sensitive area for consumers, it’s hugely important that charity brands get their marketing approach spot-on. Marketers need to understand their motives and attitudes to convert them into regular donors.
Charity marketers need to take far greater advantage of the fragmentation of the media landscape and the opportunities this can provide. The development of mobile applications, for instance, would provide an ideal opportunity to engage the public in a 24/7 capacity. One interesting scheme to emerge recently and demonstrate this is Everyclick’s new shopping app “Give as you live”. This mobile application allows consumers to donate a percentage of the price of their online shopping to a charity of their choice. The ease of which people are able to make a donation and the way it integrates so naturally into the “nowconomic” expectations of modern consumers has the potential to trigger a digital revolution in the charity marketing sector.
As the “not for profit” description suggests, generating revenue in this sector is not as straightforward as in other fields; a sentiment perhaps incongruous with the commercial ideals that the marketing industry is usually accustomed to. Without a tangible product to offer, charity marketers are instead faced with the unenviable task of convincing consumers to sacrifice their hard-earned money in exchange for little more than good will and a belief in a cause.
Using innovative digital campaigns is a great way for charities to engage with audiences, especially if they design them to ensure they receive data in return, allowing marketers to source the specific individuals who have the potential to become loyal donors. Focusing on the who, and how to convert them into regular donors will always be more valuable than purely reaching out to a mass audience.
The difficulty is, as with other sectors, that competition is extremely high among charity brands. Yet, it would be deemed highly inappropriate for charities to take a competitive stance against any potential rivals when personal beliefs and causes are at stake. There is a certain risk in promoting one charity brand above another and marketers need to be wary of the sensitive nature of the subject matter. Thrusting a message too crassly upon an audience can risk commercialising the charity and losing the impact on consumers. By listening to the public through digital platforms and creating personalised communications, charities can develop a targeted strategy which speaks to each consumer individually.
Consumer data therefore has the potential to become one of the most effective tools charity marketers have at their disposal. In the charity market, especially, data allows marketers to listen and communicate with the people who are ultimately responsible for making or breaking each brand or campaign. In order to keep donations up in this age of caution and austerity, it’s about time charity marketers started to think more seriously about utilising the technology and data that their commercial counterparts make use of on a regular basis.

Tim Hipperson is chief executive of G2 Joshua

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