The Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index consistently ranks Britain among the top 10 most generous countries. You only have to look at recent events to confirm that.
The British Red Cross revealed that the We Love Manchester fund alone has raised nearly £10 million since that vicious attack on 22nd May.
Whilst hideous events like this temporarily raise the profile of charities, the rest of the 160,000 registered charities in England and Wales are playing in a highly competitive marketplace.
The charity sector spends a whopping £1,578 every second or £136.4 million a day on charitable activities - some sceptics may consider some of these activities a waste of money and resource.
This is just one of the many challenges charity marketers are facing. In this blog, we explore the other key challenges facing this sector.
1] The digital challenge
Charities are not outsiders to the benefits and challenges associated with digital empowerment. The complicated digital habits of Millennials and Gen Z - spreading themselves across multiple platforms one minute and then disengaging themselves in ‘digital detoxes’ the next – are a nightmare.
Likewise, the third sector must explore whether charities and volunteering in its current form are applicable to a generation that has been connected from the cradle and weigh up whether alternative forms for social action (most notably crowdfunding) are more relevant.
Charities are not renowned for providing digital prowess, with 58% reporting a lack of basic skills. However, those who do engage in digital are proving to create some fabulous digital initiatives.
One that I have become aware of was Blue Cross’ contactless payment dogs. This seamless use of digital technology and social media was a match made in heaven (plus who can resist the gorgeous pups!).
Like any organisation, charities need to cement their digital strategy by understanding their core audience. There’s no use jumping on the bandwagon of new and upcoming digital channels if they do not resonate with the audience. However, to future proof the viability of the charity it is vital that digital channels are utilised to spread awareness and build amplification of core messages- hopefully increasing the donor population!
2] The perception challenge
The UK is a cynical nation. We need reasons to believe in the charity before putting our hands in our pockets. It is said the UK would donate £655 million more to charity each year, if we had access to more information about evidence of impact and exactly how our money would be spent.
Because there is such a huge wealth of charitable institutions, consumers perceive there to be a lack of differentiation. Who should I donate to? Why should donate to this institution over another?
The borders between the public, private and voluntary sectors are indistinct and will continue to blur. For example, social enterprises will blend business and social purposes, whilst businesses try and present themselves as socially valuable. You can see why it is a confusing landscape to try and conduct marketing activities. Likewise, this is frustrating for the consumer!
By utilising digital channels charities can boast transparency and gratify the consumer’s desire for information. Consumers will only believe what they can see so transparency is key to building perceptions of your charity and will give distinct reasons to believe.
3] The environmental challenge
The external environment for charities is going to be pressured in the coming years. There are questions about charities’ role in society- are they even necessary to our changing environment? Are there better business models to providing charity?
To add a further layer of complexity there is also uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Yes, Brexit is all we hear about but it is a vital economic gamechanger. Consumers are worried about another recession so to ensure their loyalty and to obtain new donors, charities need to; account better for how they spend their money, increase ethical fundraising, and prove to donors they are making a constructive difference to their causes.
The world is rapidly changing and charities are in the heart of all this transformation. Whether it’s the causes they are supporting or the idiosyncrasies between donors and their actions- charity marketing is a minefield. However, if charity marketers know their donor audience inside and out, are pragmatic in their approach to targeting them and keep religiously up to date with relevant consumer trends- this will enable them to grow and flourish in this muddy marketplace.
Sophie Beckley, Planner
Talk to Sophie about how we can help you create an immersive connection with your customers - 01902 714 957 firstname.lastname@example.org