Wednesday 31 July 2013

The function of advertising for charities

Charity advertising has a number of functions.

The most common ones are:

1. To generate awareness of the charity, what cause does it act for, to make prospective donors appreciate why this need is urgent and tell them what is already being done to alleviate the condition. Awareness building also helps other more direct forms of fundraising.

2. To lobby influential bodies, politicians, corporate business leaders and financial institutions. 50% of the revenue raised by the top 500 charities come from non-voluntary sectors.

3. To raise money, ideally in the form of regular giving as well as from legacies.

As such Charity advertising is not classic direct response marketing and very rarely pays for itself directly. The return on advertising investment direct off the page or television screen averages 30% which is why fundraisers use a 'lifetime' donor value to make the investment seem more palatable. Some Charities simply justify their advertising and other fundraising expenditure by expressing this as a percentage of their total income generated from all sources.

Advertising does do more than raise money directly and helps improve responses from other areas of fundraising activity such as appeals to existing supporters, street collections, trading revenues and corporate sponsors.

Some advertising seeks to attract the attention of the people they seek to help. Combat Stress exists to help ex-service personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. War is hell but reliving its horrors every day is torture.

Well known charities can be brave and not ask for donations as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds does in the attached great ad. It borrows the line from the movie 'Field of dreams': 
"If you build it, they will come".

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