A step-by-step guide to budget marketing for charities

Do you want to raise more funds or get more regular donators for your charity? Whatever your marketing aim, there’s a cost-friendly way to do it.

If you have a marketing goal you want to achieve, check out this guide featuring a range of cost-saving tips to help charities succeed in marketing.


The first step to saving cash and not forking out on starting over is learning who your audience is. Get this wrong, and you could end up investing in a weak campaign aimed at the wrong person. Start by researching your current donors to find out their interests, likes and motivations. You can do this for free by using your website’s analytics and metrics, checking out social media accounts, or via a postal survey.


Arrange a meeting during working hours and get your team together to discuss what everyone wishes to achieve from this campaign. Want to attract more regular donors? Do you have a fundraising target? Need to improve your organisation’s authority? These are all credible, potential goals, but it’s vital that everyone working on the campaign knows which they are working towards.

It might also be worth strategizing how you will use both digital and print marketing techniques at this stage. Again, so that everyone is on the same page and there is no unnecessary spending. Also remember to make your objectives precise, measurable and realistic.

Key message

The success of your marketing campaign depends a great deal on the power of your key message. What is the main aspect of your campaign that you want people to know? Strong key messages make your campaign stand out and stick in people’s minds, so it’s important that you get this across in a creative way.

The best way to make your charity memorable is to give it a ‘face’. 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. This helps to add personality and sets your organisation apart for others.

Is there any way you can organise to do something similar and show the world what your charity does to help others? Carry out interviews, take pictures and even do a ‘day-in-the-life-of’ detailing a colleague or recent beneficiary of your charity. Place these on your Facebook page or get a pull-up banner printed to show your local community how your organisation operates. After all, showing people what your charity can do is far more effective than just telling them.


Emotive words are essential to marketing, despite the rise in video and photographic content. But how do you write effective marketing copy as a charity? Make sure your content is pithy and powerful with a strong key message — such as: ‘Help is a four-legged word’ from Canine Companions, or ‘Likes don’t save lives’ from UNICEF Sweden. Taglines like these look incredible on print marketing materials where you can’t simply click away or scroll past.

Create a friendly, approachable persona through your company — even though you may be dealing with a sensitive issue. Stuffy sentences and a demanding tone won’t encourage people to engage with your campaign.


Once you’ve held your interviews, filmed your video content, mocked up your posters, and created your catchy taglines; it’s time to launch your budget-friendly campaign.

Kick-off the distribution side by phoning a few print companies to get a quote on leaflets, banners and anything else you think will work. Some will offer a discount for non-profit organisations, too. Did you know that almost 80% of charitable donations come from direct mail, according to a report by the Institute of Fundraising? This report also stated that print encourages loyalty, with more than 50% of the people surveyed saying that they find print the most credible marketing channel, and 25% keeping printed products for future reference.

Once you’ve sorted out print marketing, it’s time to get digital involved. Fast and free, you can use your charity’s online platforms — especially Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — to boost your campaign and encourage people to share your posts, photos and Tweets. Past campaigns have also shown how good social media can be at spreading a message. 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 a fortnight, the campaign achieved more than 14,000 social media shares and was covered hundreds of times in the media.

Of course, you can always get in touch with your local government body, local businesses and nationwide grant-making trusts for extra financial assistance, if you wish. However, the above steps show that you can easily market your charity without breaking the bank.