News & Insights

Supporter Behaviours are changing, so should your charity media strategy.

6 September 2022

Energy prices, inflation, conflict, and fuel prices. You’re probably getting fed up with the doom and gloom of these topics every time you turn on the TV or flick through the newspaper.

The cost-of-living crisis has been slowly gathering pace since October 2021, reaching an explosive crescendo that looks to be driving the economy into recession. Not only that, but consumer confidence is also at an all-time low, resulting in a much more cautious spending approach.

Data shows the majority of UK adults have or are likely to reduce their spending in response to the cost of living crisis, which means that charities and the not-for-profit sector are going to be firmly in the spotlight as the size of the audience that requires support grows, yet the ability to donate is put under increasing amounts of pressure.

Whilst every charity and their supporters are different, it’s likely that we will see a reduction in one-off gifts and the cancelling of direct debits from existing supporters who can no longer afford their contributions.

In addition, it is also feasible that the responses of any donor acquisition campaigns are likely to waiver if you employ the same strategy, messaging and targeting as before.

This is why it is so important to take this time to realign creative, media strategy, and content to ensure that your focus is on marketing and fundraising efforts that will deliver in the current climate.

When it comes to planning media, you should always be led by data. This is what informs on who to communicate with and in what channels you should be spending your budget – and right now, this is more pivotal than ever.

So, with that in mind, below are some key considerations and areas to address when fundraising during this period.

4 things to consider when fundraising during the cost-of-living crisis

1. Think about who to target

As we mentioned above, your usual supporter is more than likely feeling the pinch, so it is important to analyse your active supporters and identify segments who may not be under so much pressure.

This isn’t purely based on affluence either: think life stage, preferred giving method, and affinity to your cause. During an uncertain economic landscape, it creates an opportunity for charities to effectively communicate their cause with audiences that they may not have resonated with before.
Those in more fortunate financial positions are more likely to support when charities are at their most vulnerable and that is where it is imperative to get the tone and messaging correct – which leads us onto our next point…

2. Be mindful of your content

It will be easy to assume that all charities should be referencing cost of living in their messaging during this time, however, that’s the issue – most charities will be.

Your audiences are going to be in a position where they are inundated with offers and messaging discussing the current economic climate and therefore may be overwhelmed, or even downright frustrated with all that information.

Our recommendation would be to only address it and its impact on your charity if your cause is going to be affected. Take homeless charities for example. The size of the audience that they support is likely to increase as the cost of living rises and therefore, they need to increase asks during this period.

Basically, if you are going to address it, you need to show how the crisis is affecting your cause in a tangible way.

3. Justify your ask levels

Be prepared for the way people supporters give to change, and don’t necessarily be tempted to reduce ask levels without data that backs up that decision.

Not only does lower cash donations equate to lower campaign incomes, but those that give lower are less likely to give again and generate a decent return on marketing investment.

Justify your ask levels by telling a story and informing what different values mean to your charity and those that you support. Whilst this has been common practise for many for a long time, now it is more important than ever.

4. Agility is key

My final key consideration is to ensure that your media strategies are flexible and that you have the ability to be reactive within them.

This may be in holding onto some contingency that can be used in channels that present a new opportunity or alternatively, enabling you to react with emergency appeals should you so wish.

The ability to optimise and track campaign performance is scrutinised even further when consumer confidence is so low, which is why it is important to have your finger on the pulse of what is working and what’s not, as it is likely to be vastly different to the performance of your previous activity.

Previous recessions and the pandemic have shown us that fortune favours the brave when it comes to organisational growth, something that is referenced thoroughly in Mark Ritson’s recession playbook.

The Progressive marketeer and fundraiser will be adapting their media strategy to effectively capitalise on share of voice, whilst others lose their nerve.

How a media planning agency can help you navigate these tough times

Here at Join the Dots, as a data-led media agency we are proactively having daily discussions with our charity partners on all the above and helping to align their strategies to what may be yet another “new normal” for some time.

Couple this with format change suggestions, media owner negotiations and channel optimisation and you can see that there is lots of opportunity to continue to make budgets work smarter at this time.

If you would like to see how we can help you join the dots with your media strategy or for further fundraising advice, please feel free to contact us so we can have a chat.

Be sure to check out the Charity Week podcast, ‘Fundraising Through the Cost-of-Living Crisis’, featuring our very own Ben Briggs.

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