In the competitive world of charities, it is no longer enough just to be pictured in the press receiving a giant cheque to raise your organisation’s profile – although who doesn’t love a huge donation!

With dwindling resources it is necessary to make your marketing work harder and smarter.

It is all about delivering the right message to the right audience through right channel at the right time.

The old sales adage ‘be where your customers are’ stands true for not-for-profits too. Go to where potential supporters are likely to be rather than wait for them to discover you.

If your organisation is trying to attract the desirable younger demographic to revitalise its donor base then it is doubtful traditional print press coverage will even be seen by them, let alone attract their attention.

However a piece in the newspaper does add weight and legitimacy, which online doesn’t yet confer, should a young person who has seen your message via email campaign decide to follow up and research a charity to decide whether they are interested in supporting it.

And while email marketing is a sophisticated, efficient and measurable approach, direct mail gives potential donors something tangible to read and reread with more impact.

Smart-thinking marketing teams will not only know when and where to deploy either approach but will also use feedback from a tracked email campaign, which can inform and fine-tune a print campaign.

All the channels should be working together to achieve the end result; whether it is raise awareness, greater donations or an increase in volunteers.

Know the options

The aim of multi-channel marketing is to reach as many people as possible in the ways to which they will respond. Diversify ways to get your message and for people to get involved, both on and offline.

Email marketing; radio, tv and print press ads; news stories from press releases; targeted social media advertising; blogs; direct mail; bricks-and-mortar presence; telemarketing; events; billboards – this list is no way exhaustive so there is a channel, or more like a mixture of channels, to reach everyone.

Build a picture and story

Identify the demographics you want to reach, build a media profile of each persona. Typically they will not be tied to one particular medium or style of message.

Take time to understand how your target groups move from one channel to another. They may hear a radio advert and think nothing of it but then receive an email, which they read but do not act on. A day later, a targeted ad pops up on social media which reminds them they were interested in this charity from the radio and they finally make a donation by text as prompted.

The key is consistency

Although the method of delivery will vary and the tone may have to be adjusted slightly to appeal to each target market, the most important factor for success is that a supporter experiences consistency in the key messages across all channels.

A disconnected, disjointed, ragtag approach will confuse and ultimately lose potential donors, no matter how good your cause.

While multi-channel marketing delivers great rewards it does require a broader range of skills and cross-department cooperation. If you need help get in contact the Big Heart Network at or check out our Lunch&Learn seminars that are coming up here. We’d love to help.