News | 21/02/2018

The struggles of a charity marketer

Posted by Lawrence Greenlee

It’s tough working in the charity sector. I know because I spent five years doing fundraising and communications for healthcare charities. I worked long hours, pretty much Monday – Sunday every week, with a pretty non-existent budget. And when I used to tell people what I did for a living, around 70% of them would spend a long time telling me how appalling it was that I was taking a salary from a charity. (For the record, charities need to pay salaries to get skilled people to work full-time, otherwise they’d make no progress, no money, and wouldn’t be able to deliver on any of their aims.)

So I have a huge amount of sympathy and respect for charity marketers. With charity workers under strong scrutiny in the news at the moment, now must be an even harder time to be working in the industry. However, despite the fact that clearly some people have grossly misused their position in charity roles, the majority of people in the sector are there because they want to make a difference to the world.

At Cobb Digital, we believe in supporting brands and organisations that make a positive impact on the world, and we’ve been helping a number of charities make the most of their marketing. One thing we have come to realise is that many charities don’t realise how many opportunities exist to help make their marketing go further. Below are just a few of the key ones.

Google Grants

PPC advertising can be incredibly valuable for charities, reaching people searching for specific issues or services and directing them to the most relevant landing page to engage them with your organisation, or generating awareness of a particular cause amongst a targeted audience. It can also be vital for crisis management – if you were Oxfam right now, you’d want your website and your apology ranking above news reports. Many charities are put off from using PPC because they think it’s too expensive, but Google makes grants available to charities allowing you to claim a certain amount of advertising for free!

Mobile payment technology

One-off donations are, of course, amazing. But one thing I learned during my time in the charity sector is that those £2-per-month givers are more desirable than the person who drops in a cheque for £100 out of the blue never to be seen again (although that person is very generous, and we’re very grateful!). Why? Because they enable you to plan ahead and budget for the work the organisation wants to do in the coming year. The simpler you can make that sign-up process, the more people are likely to do it. And if they can pay through their phone bill, they probably won’t even miss that £2 each month and are more likely to keep giving for longer. 17% of online charitable donations in the UK in 2016 were made through mobile devices – a jump of eight percentage points from 2014. When you consider how few charities make that option available, imagine the potential if we opened it up more widely.

Social media donations

There are integrations available that will allow you to take donations directly through social media platforms. The majority of UK internet use happens on mobile devices, and 85% of internet users prefer apps to mobile websites – they’re more convenient, faster to load, and easier to use. Social media apps are amongst the most popular, and once users are in them they’re unwilling to leave to go to a third-party website. If you can allow them to donate to your charity without having to go anywhere, they’re much more likely to do it.


Fancy technology aside, the most important thing I learned from half a decade in the charity sector is that people give to people, not organisations. The most valuable tool for a marketer is the human stories of the people the charity helps and the team making it happen. Harnessing those stories and communicating them effectively is your most powerful weapon as a marketer!

If you would like support in accessing the technical support available, or in getting the right message across to your audience, we are here to help! Get in touch to find out how our team can help in a way that will fit your budget (however small it might be!).