Many charities fail to make the distinction between their communication and fundraising strategies and, by default, also blur the line between the objectives of each too.
This is a huge mistake as communication and fundraising serve very different organisational needs.
Worst still, some organisations in the charity sector believe they need a marketing strategy, when in fact many do not have a product or service to ‘market’ in a traditional sense – but for today, we’ll save that issue for another article.
Looking at communications and fundraising separately gives you clarity on what it is you want to achieve from each. Below I go into more detail on each.
As well as driving income, charities also need to understand the stakeholders they need or want to engage with and for what purpose.
For example, some charities may be struggling to service the volume of clients that come through their doors, so may want to focus the message of their campaigns on prevention and, the objective of this work, on reducing footfall.
The need to define the right message in order to achieve the desired effect also leads you to select the most appropriate channels to communicate with your audience through – for example, press (editorial and advertorial), radio, digital, direct mail, events, face-to-face.
What’s important though, regardless of the message and the channels selected, is that specific objectives are set next to each planned communications activity and how hitting these objectives moves your charity closer to its overall mission.
Trusts and grants, community, corporate, commissions, events – there’s a whole spectrum of possibilities when it comes to fundraising in the charity sector. Where the challenge lies for charities is understanding which of these types of fundraising has the most potential to support their particular brand of work.
For example, a charity working in animal welfare is likely to gain more community (public) support than it is local authority funding. Alternatively, a charity working to provide housing and benefits advice is less likely to receive public donations but more likely to receive local authority funding.
Answering the question of where there is most potential for fundraising support to come from first, dictates the audience and, therefore, the channels and proposition too.
For both communications and fundraising strategies, we would advise breaking your objectives for each out separately. This will enable you to answer questions about audiences, channels, propositions and set specific targets next to each – your communications and fundraising strategies.
Sometimes using a visionary statement to spell out what your communications strategy and your fundraising strategy intend to achieve independently then allows you to break these up into smaller, specific objectives that then become more achievable.
If you’re struggling with know where to start on setting the objectives for your communications and/or fundraising strategies, contact me (Rob Mulholland) for a chat about how we can help you develop this.