Charities Banking on Marketing to Swell Coffers
Christmas is the time of year when people are most likely to make a charitable donation. But there are a lot of charities looking for cash and they are as expert at deploying various forms of marketing and advertising as peddlers of consumer goods.
While many big brands have cut back on their advertising spend, most charities are spending as much on advertising as they did in 2009. Their marketing tactics span television and radio advertising, digital, unaddressed and addressed direct mail, household leaflet drops, newspaper inserts and even outdoor billboards.
All that requires marketing expertise so it’s not surprising Mary Reynolds of St Vincent De Paul has experience with such brands as McDonalds and Motorola. SVP’s advertising tools include a television advert made last year by advertising agency McConnell’s and this year Reynolds is buying airtime on regional radio stations. “Every piece of the campaign has the same look and feel to it, in all the literature as well as the TV, radio and online activity,” she says.
"We would be expecting a drop again this year and we have to work harder to get the money in.”
Third world charity Bóthar has a € 400,000 budget to get its message across this Christmas. Allison McNamara concedes that achieving “cut through” when so many charities are advertising is a challenge but Bóthars “goat” ad on radio grabs attention, not least because of its frequency.
“We launched our campaign two weeks ago and we are getting a positive response. But donations are not as high as last year. Where people used to give us € 100, now they are giving € 50. We find that for every € 1 we spend on marketing, we get € 3 to € 4 back. We are doing TV again this year but not on as large a scale as last year because it is expensive.”
Dublin Simon raises about € 4 million from the public every year and Lorna Cronnelly says about three-quarters of that is garnered in the run-up to Christmas. This year, the charity is spending between € 90,000 and € 100,000 with Mediaworks, Irish International and Bonfire on the agency roster.
RTÉ presenter Marian Finucane fronts Dublin Simon’s radio ads but is not asking for a specific amount. Says Cronnelly: “Last year Marian asked for € 25. Research shows us that if you ask for a specific amount, people will generally give what you ask for. But we changed our strategy this year to reflect the more difficult economic environment.”
Leona Kavanagh of Trócaire says the charity’s Global Gift appeal raised € 2.6 million last year. Trócaire gets back about €5 for every €1 spent on advertising. This year Trócaire is advertising with inserts, radio, TV, press advertisements and online activity including Facebook and Twitter.
Focus Ireland is running one of its biggest campaigns for years under the direction of Roughan McNamara. It kicked off in September with press advertising; phase two was launched last month with a presence on billboards, commuter cards, bus rears and radio. The ads feature two homeless people, with one poster depicting a young man sleeping in his car with the strapline: “I used to build homes, then I lost mine.”
Says McNamara: “Last year we raised € 5.3 million and that was down from € 5.7 million in 2008. We would be expecting a drop again this year and we have to work harder to get the money in.”
Atomic was given the job to revamp Concern’s traditional 24-hour fast fundraiser. The result was the Concern Festival, which combined fasting and fundraising with music and comedy gigs in six cities through November. To promote the initiative, Concern advertised on outdoor media for the first time, using bus rears and Adshels.
Smaller charities such as Our Lady’s Hospice Harold’s Cross in Dublin endeavour for a share too. Working with a marketing budget of € 28,000 is Criona Cullen, who hopes her Light up a Life campaign will match the € 500,000 raised last year. Cullen has raised € 200,000 so far, which is “not too far off where we were this time last year”.
(source: Irish Times)