Effective ways charities can cut through the noise and drive donations

If you are a charity looking to raise awareness of your work and ultimately, drive donations, it might be time to consider implementing a PR strategy.

The charity space is crowded, so to attract donations from the public it’s important to ensure your organisation’s name and cause is known to your target audience. Strategic, creative PR campaigns can help do just that by creating widespread attention in the media.

At PHA, we are passionate about supporting charity clients and seeing a genuine impact. Below are just some of the ways a refreshed PR strategy could lead to effective fundraising for your charity:

Understanding and reaching your target audience

First and foremost, you need to have a strong understanding of who and what your key audiences and objectives are – this includes what they read, and what types of articles, stories and campaigns will grab their attention. This is vital when it comes to planning and producing creative ideas for both larger brand campaigns and general day-to-day press office outreach.

Once you have a clear understanding of the types of media your target audience are interested in reading, you can focus on implementing a PR strategy that will result in donations. For example, are you more likely to grab potential donors’ attention by placing real life beneficiary stories in national newspapers and women’s magazines, or will a public ‘stunt’ that goes viral on social media garner more interest amongst your audience? Both strategies could create media attention – the effectiveness will ultimately depend on who your key audiences are.

The above said, no two PR strategies are the same, so it’s worth considering a range of different tactics; this will give you the best chance of engaging with your target audience, and hopefully, drive donations.

Leveraging real life case studies

Real life stories are incredibly powerful when it comes to raising awareness of a charity and the cause it supports – especially when it comes to medical conditions or social affairs issues.

By nature, humans are interested in other humans’ experiences, especially if they can relate to that person. For this reason, there is always an appetite in the media for ‘case studies’, particularly in the national press and women’s magazines.

Having case studies who are willing to share their story will help promote your charity’s key objectives and highlight how and where readers can donate, as well as the impact that these donations will have. Online media coverage is a particularly efficient way to drive web traffic, as donation webpages can be hyperlinked within the body of the media article.

Often, those who have been supported by your charity will want to lend their support by sharing their story – not only because it could reassure others who may be going through a similar experience, but also to give back to the charity that helped them.

As an example, we work with national bereavement and palliative care charity, Sue Ryder, and frequently place case study stories in the national and regional media. Many stories centre around supporters’ fundraising efforts for the charity, and often, the articles we place result in a spike in donations and web traffic.

Utilising existing or new research

One way that charities can create noise in the media is by sharing research. Nationally representative, credible research can help highlight why people should support a cause, and in turn, encourage people to donate to a charity which supports that cause.

The media see great value in research stories, and it doesn’t necessarily have to cost money. Many charities have databases, research, and reports on file which can be repurposed to form a story suitable for press.

However, in the absence of existing data, you might want to consider commissioning a reputable survey company such as YouGov or OnePoll with questions specifically crafted to create powerful statistics and headlines. Whilst this won’t be free, the potential return of investment in donations from media coverage could far exceed the cost of research.

Using awareness hooks and calendar moments

The news agenda is a busy space, and there are multiple awareness days and calendar moments throughout the year which can be used to garner the media and public’s attention.

To reference just a couple of examples; anti-bullying charities might want to increase PR activity around the back-to-school period; and mental health charities might want to consider increasing activity and campaigns around Mental Health Awareness Week. Planning well in advance of these dates will help maximise media opportunities.

Relevant calendar moments and awareness days are also times when other organisations and charities in the same field will likely be trying to make noise, so by ensuring you have planned PR activity during these key dates will help increase share of voice in the media and hopefully, boost donations.

These are just some of the strategies we use when working with third sector clients to drive genuine results that have a real impact. If you would like to discuss this further by speaking to our experts or discuss how to create a PR plan for your a charity, please get in touch to find out more.

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