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How Charities Can Use Digital Marketing Campaigns & Strategies To Fundraise & Raise Awareness

Looking at how charities can use social media, paid advertising, email and content marketing and more to help them encourage donations and build new audiences whilst the whole world is online.

Whilst we are all stuck in the digital world as isolation continues, it’s important that the likes of charities don’t miss out on the donations and awareness that they depend so heavily upon.

For many of us, our marketing objectives have changed and our approach to digital marketing should too. These changes should now see more of a focus on top of funnel activity and awareness.

Investing your time in building committed communities now, will help you with your short term ambitions and seem more prosperous on the other side.

To do this you need to work out the psychology of your audience and understand how their motivations have changed. Attention at this time should be directed at engaging with your audience using social media and looking at being found online when users search.

In this blog, we take a look at some of the things charities can do using the power of digital, digital marketing and technology to upkeep and excel their marketing efforts, adapting to the current state of life and the new world that will be as the world recovers.

But even post-recovery, these are things that every charity should consider implementing into their digital strategy. If what’s happening now hasn’t taught everyone the importance of digital, then we don’t know what will!


Google Grants

Did you know that Google offers a programme called Google Ad Grants? It provides free ad credit to select charitable organisations, designed to help them extend their public service messages to a wider audience in an effort to make a greater impact on the world!

Ad credits will help you make PPC adverts that will appear in the likes of Google’s search results, in turn making people more aware of your cause and translating, if used cleverly, to more donations, volunteers or whatever your goal might be when marketing your charity.

So, if you’re an eligible and qualifying not-for-profit charity, you’ll receive $10,000 USD (just over £8000) in in-kind Google Ads advertising each month! That’s hardly something to miss out on… is it?

These ads will be entirely text-based and will appear on Google search results pages below paying advertisers. But if your organic SEO is letting you down, or you just want that extra boost, then these ads can help you to be GIANT.

The application process is pretty simple, but making sure to adhere to the rules and stay compliant can be a tricky one. But we’re able to help you here. Helping you set up and build the advertising (PPC) account out, as well as managing it to help you remain compliant. We can help you with the application process too if you’d like! Just get in touch and let the team know you’re interested in Google Grants – they’ll know what to do.


Make Case Studies For Your Charity

We’re sure you know it already, but If people can see the impact that their donations or input is having or will have, then the more likely they are to get involved! Case studies are a really great way to digitally display all the good things your charity has been able to do.

A case study can take many forms. A simple status on a social media platform, a page on your website, a downloadable PDF, a video, a podcast… the formats are endless. You will, of course, need to consider the best format for your target audience though, don’t forget that.


If a particular organisation, individual or school managed to raise a great deal of funds for you, why not document in a case study how they did it? This can give people inspiration and ideas for their own fundraising activities. As well as provide some great reach for you.

You can also case study how a particular donation helped you achieve something, or was put towards something specific. For example, if you were an animal conservation charity you can case study how, for example, ‘for 1000 peoples donation of their normal Starbucks coffee, we were able to feed a tiger for _ weeks.’.

No matter the format you decide works best for your audience and abilities, these will be great shared across social media – tagging in and outreaching to people that were involved, or you think should be.

Some things you should look to include in your case study;

  • Background & context of you as a charity, and the cause you’re documenting
  • The solution/what was done to raise awareness/funds/etc
  • Include images to illustrate the cause (user-generated content where possible as a charity)
  • Add links to resources, donation methods, people involved etc. (links are valuable for your websites SEO)
  • Statistics – money raised, people helped, target achieved
  • Share buttons to increase reach
  • Quotes & testimonials
  • A call to action


Email Marketing Campaigns

Getting people to sign up for a newsletter or general email list isn’t too difficult – with a host of ways you can do it including social media, paid advertising, great content marketing, powerful calls to action… voila!

So once you’ve got a list, you’ve got to give them what they signed up for… emails. Though of course, please follow GDPR guidance.

In a study, it was found that Baby Boomer donors, worldwide, were most inspired to give to charity through email marketing, a close second to social media for millennials and gen x’s.

Your emails should give updates on charity activities, motivating people to donate to help you to achieve the last of a goal. As well as being used as a fundraising appeal directly.

Some charities sent updates daily, some less frequently. The frequency of emails, so not to appear spammy, is one that depends on your audience. You’ll need to poll your audience or do some trial and error testing for this.

A personalised approach is always appreciated, so look at the tools and features available within email marketing platforms to see what you can do – even if that is just including their name. A survey even found that 78% said personalised content increased monetary intent! Who can argue with that figure?

Free HTML Email Templates from Benchmark Email

Design a template that shouts loud about your brand for recognition, but make it legible for all device types (mobile & desktop) and easily digestible generally.

Use powerful imagery and call to action buttons to help readers identify key messaging quickly and to play on the emotions of the reader to help you achieve your goal.

Test your subject lines. Most email tools will let you A/B split test these so you can work out what better resonates with your audience. Does a soft approach work better than a direct one? Test it.

These people have signed up to hear about your charity for a reason, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with them when you have something new to shout about, are proud of or when you need their help.


Host Virtual Fundraisers & Events

Don’t let the lack of physical interaction stop your normal activity of fundraisers and events! People are still very much engaged.

There’s a huge uprising in video conferencing events, webinars and shows, and this is something charities can take part in too.

Use a video conferencing or live streaming tool, such as Zoom or Facebook Live, and stream a quiz. Whether you ask people for donations to take part, or simply use it as an awareness tool, it will be a lot of fun and very effective.

Charities like The Aspinall Foundation have used live streaming to give social media users direct views into animal enclosures, providing talks with information on each animal and letting people know what donations can help do.

You aren’t limited to quizzes though, you can look into virtual concerts, talks/seminars, live testimonials, interviews with donors/charity members, stay-at-home fun runs, challenges etc. 

As with your average event or fundraiser, you’ll want to draw up an audience/sign up list/buzz prior to the event itself. So make sure you market it through relevant channels like social media and email marketing in advance, with a compelling landing page on your website that tells people more about how to get involved.

There are both benefits and challenges with hosting a virtual event. But removing the traditional in-person barriers that can limit events, will help make them a success. For example, your supporters aren’t restricted to a when and where in the same way as when physical. With a large majority of people now online, it’s safe to say that with the right marketing and appeal, you can get an audience to turn up to your event where location and accessibility may have otherwise restricted people.

It doesn’t have to be LIVE either! Setting a challenge like a fun run or sponsored swim can still be classed as an event. You can set a time limit for the supporters to get involved, and encourage them along the way to gain sponsors through a social media or email marketing strategy. And at the end of the challenge, you can make some awesome, inspiring content through a mix of user-generated content, testimonials and bits from yourself.

Have a think about the kind of event you’d usually host, or one you’d planned to that had to be postponed or cancelled, and look at how you can turn that into something virtual. If you need some help brainstorming then get in touch on our social media channels.

And if you’re thinking of something like a live video stream, then take a look at our guide on video conferencing which will help you get the perfect shot, and set up accordingly.


Social Media

Social media is perhaps an obvious one, but never one you should shy away from. Don’t be afraid, especially in times like these, to pull on some heartstrings to encourage engagement with your charity. 

Using social media can be a really effective way for you to build supporters, boost donations, share success stories, network with like-minded people and organisations, encourage people to sign up to charitable campaigns, recruit volunteers or demonstrate the impact of what’s happened to them.

Get people to share their stories as they’ve been involved with your charity. Ask them to send in videos, photos, stories for you to then turn them into different content formats for each platform your charity is across (and if you wondered, watch which social media platform is best for you here). 

A great example of this is the Run For Heroes campaign who even managed to get celebrities involved and has since raised over £5million.

This kind of content is relatable and personal and is proven to do well if used properly. 

Running adverts through social media is very cost-effective too, with lower cost-per-click than other advertising methods. Depending on your audience, you can look at running things like Facebook Carousel Ads or using audiences called ‘lookalikes’ on Facebook or LinkedIn to find new donors and volunteers. 

It all depends on your objectives!

And a top tip, from our Brand & Marketing Manager, Danny Windsor….

“If you’re looking to run certain activities, fundraisers etc. after the pandemic, when we enter the new world, look to build that audience now – what better time to do it? Don’t just make it an audience of people who know you, or who would maybe donate, look to build an audience of people who might take part.

For example, if you’re looking to host a fun-run, don’t just target those likely to give money donations, target those who like running!”

Content Creation

There are SO many forms and variants of content you can be creating for your charity. From content for social media, content to engage and enthuse, content for search purposes and more.

Your most valuable content creation asset right now is the general public. This is called user-generated content (UGC). Whilst everyone’s at home and with a little more free time than usual, it’s the perfect time to get them to make video, photo and written content for your charity.

Get them to record and send in testimonials, photos of their fundraising activities, recordings of the challenges they’ve faced etc.

This kind of content is extremely personable and relatable to by the rest of your followers. With clever use of messaging, you can use user-generated-content to help you achieve a whole host of objectives.

Below is a list of hundreds of different content types that work across your website, your social media and more.


And finally, calls to action

This is just a quick one to remind you that through digital, you are not limited to the call to action of “donate now”.

Mixing it up and testing new things will help you better understand your audience’s behaviour.

You’ll want as much involvement as you can, in as many ways as you can, so look at using calls to action such as “find out more”, “volunteer today”, “subscribe”, “sign up”, “help Sarah”.

Test, test… and mix things up!


And that’s just a few things you, as a charity and not-for-profit organisation, can do using digital marketing to run effective campaigns and build strategies to help fundraise and raise awareness of your work.

Digital marketing is always evolving, but being part of it and continually learning how you can use the new features and latest updates is the most valuable thing.

Good luck, and if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch or reach out across our social media accounts.

We can offer guidance!

Whether that’s directing you to content that can help, giving you advice, or supporting you in any way we can.


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