We delve into some cheap and cheerful digital communications tools, resources and support for small charities
For charities on shoe-string marketing budgets, it can feel as if they’re excluded from the world of larger charities doing sophisticated things with digital audience segmentation and launching celebrity-backed viral campaigns.
Yes, it’s tough to launch a digital communications strategy that successfully competes with all the noise out there when you’re a small player in a big sea. But that doesn’t mean smaller charities can’t communicate well online and make a powerful impression that drums up support for their cause.
Here are some cost-effective ways to make the most of your marketing budget.
Defining a communication strategy helps charities make the most of the resources they have and prioritise the channels and methods that are likely to be most effective for them.
It all starts with setting precise, measurable, realistic goals for what you want to achieve, who you want to reach and the messages you want to convey.
You can use this free, detailed guide to planning a charity communications strategy from the NCVO.
Essential to any communications strategy is a good understanding of your audience and what they respond to, otherwise you’ll risk wasting precious time and money sending out messages that reach the wrong people, on the wrong platforms, at the wrong time or in the wrong way.
There are many free and low-cost ways to gather vital clues about your audience of potential supporters, like sending out audience surveys using free tools like SurveyMonkey. And if your charity is on Twitter, it comes with a free analytics dashboard that is useful for seeing who is engaging with you and what’s working.
Google Analytics is a completely free platform that lets you analyse and report on data such as who is visiting your website, where they’re coming from, what actions they are taking and what they’re most interested in – check out our guide to getting started here.
If you’ve hit a skills barrier and you’re wondering where to go for some extra help and support with your communications, the Media Trust connects charities with skilled volunteers. They also have some great free resources, webinars and charity case studies on everything from audience personas to harnessing the power of online influencers. It’s free to sign up.
Digital freelancers can be a very cost-effective resource. Fiverr is a highly budget-friendly platform for freelancers to sell their services – you pay a very small fee upfront per job and they’re great for when you need an expert to write that punchy blog post, create an eye-catching animated video or do some SEO research.
Yes, there are some useful freebies out there for those who know where to look.
We recently ran a webinar on how charities can take advantage of Google offers free advertising grants for charities – view the recording here. The Google Ad Grant gives eligible non-profits $10,000 in-kind advertising every month to use to boost their charity ad to the top of search engine results. There is some time and effort involved in running effective Google ads, but we hope to demystify it somewhat in the webinar.
You can get access to some small charity communications tools on the Charity Digital product page – such as Charity Digital’s bespoke email marketing software built on Dotdigital. Automation platforms like these are the best way to get started with segmenting your email lists, so you can send the most relevant content to the right people and be targeted in your communications strategy.
Charity Digital Mail is designed to put the power of email automation in the hands of small charities, by offering pricing dependent on the number of emails you send out, and bargain-priced set up and support packages. There are frequent deals to be had - right now, you can get 50,000 emails free to help charities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Other email platforms like Mailchimp offer a charity discount.
Hootsuite is a popular dashboard for social media marketers to automate and posting across different channels. Not only is this a huge time-saver, but it comes with a range of data functionalities to analyse your efforts and what’s working. The starting plan is completely free for one user across three channels, going up to £25 a month for up to ten different social profiles.
For social media mastery, there is also Lightful – a platform designed specifically for charities to save time and be more effective with social media. Charities can schedule their content, track its performance and easily create great campaigns with built-in templates, a media library and even a calendar with key dates and awareness days. There is a free plan available.