In 2018 the number of charities in the UK reached a nine-year high, with a staggering 168,000 registered charitable organisations receiving an income of over 75bn for the first time ever. The marketplace is so noisy and fragmented that even a great cause with a lifesaving message can fail to get cut through and suffer from irrelevance.
The number of charities is not the only thing on the rise; considered givers continue to change the marketplace, as millennials use the technology at their fingertips to fact check, social proof and even donate. And we see repeatedly the effects of the ongoing rise in mistrust (not helped in 2018 by the addition of sex scandals for Oxfam or the actions of Camila Batmanghelidjh and seemingly ignorant government), with regulators stating charities are now no more trusted than strangers in the street.
The good news? Britons are still fairly generous in our giving behaviour and technology is changing how how we can give time, money and support to good causes. Marketers now just need to ensure they can find their audience and help them navigate the minefield of charities by showing the relentless relevance that cause has to them, and the true value impact of their giving.
Marketers should be thinking of charities more like brands in order to achieve meaningful and rewarding connections.
In terms of the science, we know 'relevance to self' affects the way we process information, our persuasion to it, and our memory of it. For some charities, it will be naturally easier than others to find a platform which connects the cause to consumers (i.e. the number of people impacted by a disease or social circumstance), but no charity should underestimate the value of connecting with relevance.. Every. Single. Time.
We believe in identifying your audiences and firstly ensuring we connect the cause with them in a way that is meaningful to them, and then making sure every time we interact with them at the most relevant moment, letting them know we are talking to them personally and showing them that they can have a role to play in the ongoing impact of change.
Please note, however, that creating relevance doesn't just mean shoehorning ‘personalisation’ into your communications - personalisation sadly does not automatically equal relevance of your message to the end audience. There are no shortcuts to relevance.
It's why the process of creating and keeping a customer has to start somewhere, and end nowhere.
And the more relevant the message, the less friction you will experience along the way.
The tools are there to support marketers, but they won’t do the job for you - you need to creatively market your charity’s relevance and you need to be doing it relentlessly.
Charities need to go back to the inescapable marketing fundamentals and make sure consumers are still being taken through the ‘traditional’ stages of engagement at the correct touch points; the approach needs to be more than awareness and more than the moment of transaction - like brands they need to be thinking about a full customer experience.
The charity marketing approach can no longer be the traditional charity ‘talk to the heart’ advert set (#povertyporn), it has to reconsider talking to the head, putting an experience in hand and creating a hub for engagement - then it is more likely to see long time rewards from its marketing.
HEART, HEAD, HAND, HUB
For a long time the heart has ruled charity marketing. Endless research told marketers that their communications should convey feelings, not analytical thinking; don’t say 3 people need your help, give them names and sad loveable faces. Okay, maybe slightly too cynical, but the truth was known that more people were more motivated to engage when a case study had a personal experience audiences could relate to, and that a donator was much more likely to give charitably when the message tapped into their core beliefs.
Whilst that is certainly true, and in most instances you should still consider ‘story over stat’, it is also rarely any longer enough. Charity marketing needs to reflect that the ‘considered giver’ continues to rise with the impact of Millennials on the market. A generation that is more used to having access to the raw information and expects transparency and authenticity in every engagement.
Once you have your story balance, we then recommend putting it in the hands of your audience. Consumers now equate brands with experiences, and are more demanding than ever in their expectations. And when it comes to experiences, we think Paul Talbot (of Forbes) said it best: “The only thing worse than a bad customer experience is an average, lackluster one… because I guarantee you, no one will even remember those”.
Ensuring your story is tangible to your audience, be it through creating digital experiences, experiential or an app, will ensure your relevance goes beyond the message alone and becomes part of their moments.
And we finally consider a hub, your brand platform - and this is more than just an online platform to us, this is about making your cause a movement… or at least behaving like one.
Making it not just about sharing opportunities, but giving the ability for audiences to go about creating and changing.
Creating a platform where ultimately the goal is to have supporters and advocates co-produce and co-create the experience they are engaging in. And allowing for constant authentic content to be relentlessly created for you… by the people who relate the most.
Now that sounds like relentless relevance to us!