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Market your charity on a budget

There's many articles out there that offer advice on how to drive a successful marketing campaign. But these articles usually assume that you are a company with a marketing budget set aside. What if you're a charity with limited funds? Charities sometimes struggle to find marketing support tailored to suit their lower budget, and yet have the same difficulties when planning a campaign.
From boosting donations to raising awareness, Where the Trade Buys, a UK supplier for roll up banners, has created this guide to help you market your charity.

Locate funds

You probably know that there’s several ways for charities to get funding. Here are some of the best ones for achieving the capital you need for a successful marketing campaign:

- Public: according to Company Giving, funds from the general public account for about 35% of voluntary sector income. Today, people have an even greater incentive to donate, due to government-introduced measures such as: Gift Aid (charities can claim back tax from donations) and Payroll Giving (employees donate automatically from their monthly wage).

- Business: since donating boosts goodwill and staff morale, corporate donations are growing in popularity.

- Lottery: about 28% of lottery ticket sales are donated to charities.

- Trusts: grant-making foundations donate billions of pounds to charitable causes and there are thousands to choose from across the UK.

- Local government: locally-based authorities allocate funds to various charities, but the level of budget and support differs depending on where your organisation is based. Browse a list of local authorities for more information.

This is just a list of the major sources, and there may be other places o get funding from if you look around.

Know your audience

Any good marketing campaign needs to know its audience. You need to understand your audience, know your marketing objective, and be aware of social and economic factors that might affect people donating to your organisation. No matter what issues you discover you face, being aware means you have a much greater chance of overcoming them without having to start over, which is costly.

Explore everything you can about your audience. 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 free by using your website’s analytics and metrics, checking out social media accounts, or via a postal survey.


What is the reason for your marketing 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.

Are you looking to hit a fundraising target? Want to attract more regular donors? Need to improve your organisation’s authority? Anything is achievable as long as everyone on the campaign is moving towards the same goal. Just remember to make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Deciding a key message

You want a nice, short, and snappy key message, so get together with your marketing team to decide on one. Then, draft ideas regarding what you want to do to achieve your marketing goal.

Some of the best charity marketing campaigns tell a story. 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 this with your own marketing campaign by finding out some real-life stories that your charity has contributed to. Carry out interviews, take pictures and even do a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity. Good photos and insightful case studies make excellent pamphlets and leaflets that you can post around your local area. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.

Reach further

Social media is a great free tool for marketing. Use your charity’s online platforms — launch on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if you haven’t already — to boost your campaign and encourage people to share your posts, photos and Tweets.

Charities have had success with social media marketing in the past. 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.

If you want to tap into local marketing too, take a look at some leaflet or flyer campaigns. 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.

Maximise your audience by combining online and offline methods. Since print is such a popular marketing channel for charities, many design and print agencies work closely and often with non-profit organisations. So, don’t hold back from getting in touch and discussing your options.


Videos and photos are shared quickly on social media, so you can use this for your marketing. You can also capture them for free using a smartphone. But images are nothing without strong, emotive and informative copy to support them. Make sure your content is punchy and powerful with a strong key message — such as: ‘Likes don’t save lives’ from UNICEF Sweden or ‘Help is a four-legged word’ from Canine Companions. Taglines like these jump off print marketing products like flyers and posters. If you pair with a striking image, you massively increase your chances of marketing success.

Whether in a brochure or online, make sure you maintain a chatty, familiar and light-hearted persona through your content to engage with your audience.

Keep these tips in mind and you can drive a successful charity marketing campaign.