Getting From Hearts to Wallets: 3 Considerations for Charity Content Marketing

For those of us in charity, the numbers can just stagger the mind- 2321 registered charities in Calgary alone. There are 85,000 registered charities in Canada. The USA has an unbelievable 1.5 MILLION such organizations.

Directed content marketing becomes ever more important to attract and be heard to get that click-through. The message must be clear and concise to pull at heart strings and open wallets.

Fundamentally, charity marketing is no different than any other business marketing, but the stakes are higher. A person can live without another can of Coke or a new pair of Nike shoes. But to a homeless person, a night in sub-zero weather can kill.

It's no surprise that charity workers are especially passionate.

Before planning any strategy, the charity marketer needs to consider 3 considerations:

The 3 Considerations

1) Target

You want everyone to donate? That's fine, but your client, and you, have finite time, dollars and manpower. In this especially charged topic, remember that your cause is near and dear to you, but is irrelevant to others.

Take the Syrian refugee issue right now. For every person fundraising to bring them over, another will ask about helping “our own” first. This is the 80-20 rule in action, as you can spend 80% of your time raising 20% of the results by going after the wrong target. Wouldn't it be better to raise 80% instead using only 20% of your time?

2) Prioritize

Now you have your target, but not the message direction. Charity marketing tends to aim for too much which is a HUGE mistake. Ask your client, what are the most important goals in order of importance, then pick the top one.

Think carefully and get it clear. Are you raising awareness? Trying to get funding? Looking for volunteers? Is it even the right kind of donations like food, time, clothing or something specific? Why does your cause even exist?

This question will direct the focus to your content. Asking for everything just confuses the message and leads to ineffectual or even unexpected results.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many charities asked for aid without giving direction. As a result, donations of clothing, water and more unusual items came, as opposed to cash. Was the charity supposed to pay for the shipping of tons of clothes and water? How about the donations of Red Bull, potato chips, and inappropriate adult items? Those are donations for a very different type of relief.

3) Humanize

You now have your target market and the goals. But now you have to humanize to make your cause relatable.

Donors may understand the goal intellectually, but not emotionally. Ever walk by the homeless guy and look away? Get bored when shown nothing but charts and numbers?

We don't donate out of analytics; we do it because we care.

Take a look at this video from Calgary's Drop-In Centre called "Dinner"...Didn't see that coming did you?

One example that I love to highlight is the 2014 Sick Kids campaign. They targeted the wider younger demographic base instead of the traditional older audience. They clearly prioritized fundraising and then designed the content with “humanize” especially in mind.

No slick graphics. No fancy jokes. They highlighted a different sick child each day for weeks on TV, but brought forth the humanity in each child through extended YouTube videos, Facebook posts and their own unique website content.

The result was inspired directed content that made Toronto tear up for weeks. Donations in 2014-15 went up from $31 to $37 million, an incredible 20%.

Directed content charity marketing works best when these 3 pre-considerations are first taken into account. Passion follows passion, and charities are FILLED with passionate people. But, in a landscape where your client may be one of thousands, it's these pre-preparations when designing the content that will help you stand out from the very start.

Author's Bio: Terry Lo is the Head Dreamer behind Dream Communications, specializing in social media management and event marketing. As co-founder of the annual Alberta Burger Fest and YYC Pizza Week, he and his team highlighted local charity awareness while raising funds one delicious burger at a time. Among his other charity work, he is on the board of Motionball Calgary, part of the fundraising and event arm of Special Olympics Canada, the social media advisor for a number of non-profits, and can be found regularly serving meals at the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

An outspoken voice in local politics, real food, and small business, you can find him on Twitter at @calgarydreamer or LinkedIn under Terry Lo (terrenceglo) where you can find copious amounts of food pictures.

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Tags: volunteering, Blogs, charity, content marketing, Content Marketing, demographic, donate, fundraiser, giving back, good cause, helping, marketing, nonprofit, Social Media