How to position your content and messaging amidst the current pandemic
“Many charities are helping in the current crisis to alleviate pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus. Supporting the national response and helping vulnerable people to cope is our first priority at the moment but we cannot do that if we are on the brink of financial collapse.”
- Karl Wilding, CEO of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
News outlets have shown the financial strain charities are under to deliver public services despite the standstill in event-driven fundraising. Charity digital leaders, conscious of the conundrum, are tailoring digital communications and marketing around the pandemic. For many charities, digital communications have been finely tuned to highlight key charity services and the need for urgent funding.
Showcasing the extraordinary effort of NHS workers and strain the pandemic has had on health services, charitable trusts are positioning fundraising stories around their incredible roles. Barts Health NHS Trust fundraising effort is focused on the ‘extra mile’ that NHS heroes are giving to take care of patients. For fundraising, the health trust is using the slogan ‘Every donation - large or small - will make a difference,’ motivating donors to give any amount. For Barts Health, the same messaging is used on JustGiving, its online website, and Twitter for consistency.
The key messaging strategy for Barts Health is to focus on ensuring that the NHS services have the funds they need to care for victims. For marketing and communications teams looking at fundraising strategies, making donors feel valued positions causes well.
Smaller charities can also align messaging with the overall pandemic emergency appeal. Helping premature and sick babies, Bliss’ messaging and positioning has been tailored around coronavirus. Using the charity’s homepage, digital leaders aligned lifesaving neonatal health services with the overall funding decrease. For Bliss, honesty is a key ingredient in messaging. The charity said that “60% of our income comes from people who take part in fundraising events - many of which have been cancelled,” making it very clear the impact of the virus on its ability to function.
The focus of public health messaging has also been on protecting vulnerable populations. Older citizens with limited access to food stuffs and services have been identified at risk.
Keeping onside with messaging, Fundraising Director at Age UK Laurie Boult said: “We are determined to rise to the challenge and be there – to provide comfort, hope and practical support. But we can only do it if we have the funds that it will take. This is why we are reaching out today and launching this appeal. My message to everyone is please help us to help our older people through donating to this appeal – together we can make a big difference and help them pull through."
Using thematic wording from the government around coming together to help, Age UK’s message is framed not only around helping older people, but connecting the fundraising message.
Transgender charity Mermaids has also uniquely positioned the coronavirus impact on its operations and cause. Recently reported by Charity Digital, the charity said: “We are receiving a high volume of calls to our helpline from young people who are scared by what’s happening and are facing a long period of isolation in often-unfriendly environments with little opportunity to find comfort and support,” highlighting the impact of social distancing measures on mental health. In an innovative twist, the charity announced DIGIFEST 2020, a live-streamed fundraising event on Twitch and Tiltify.
Tailoring the messaging just right, the charity tapped into mental health issues caused by coronavirus and leveraged its donor history – Mermaids was the recipient of HBomberguy’s record-breaking $340,000 donation from a live-stream video game competition.
Not to be forgotten are those working to make sure that essentials are brought to the UK. Seafarers, the UK maritime charity launched a covid-19 appeal showcasing the role seafarers have in bringing food and medicine into the country. Online messaging has focused on how the charity supports industry key workers to maintain the supply of food, medicine and fuel – with travel restrictions in place, key workers are stranded, left unable to go on shore, and some remain far from their families. Again, like the other charities examined, messaging has been focused around the essential role that workers have in ensuring public safety. Rolling on from digital messaging, the charity has ensured that text and online fundraising is available to donors.