Working for a growing charity can be just as daunting as working for a well-established one. You’re a small team trying to make a big impact with limited resources. It’s hard, but it’s definitely possible.
I used to manage communications at Charity Right: a small but growing charity in Bradford. Here are my top tips for making sure your growing charity continues to grow.
1. Know why you’re different
With 168,000 charities in England and Wales alone, donors have plenty of options. The question is: why should they choose you?
Try this: get everyone on your team to write down what makes your charity different from others. If the answers are mostly the same, skip to my second tip (you’re a pro!).
If your answers are different, your team needs to do some serious soul-searching. You can’t convince anyone else to support your charity if even you don’t know why they should.
You might not be an Oxfam or a Macmillan, but donors are still willing to give you a chance. To win them over, you need to be clear about who you are, what you do, why you do it, and why it’s important.
2. Get serious about social media
Social media is the best way to stay connected to your supporters. They’ve chosen to follow you because they want to hear from you – so make the most of it.
Dedicate some time to creating a social media strategy but try to mix it up a little. You don’t want to be that charity that only asks for money. Divide your posts into content that entertains, educates, informs, inspires, and asks for donations some of the time. Get that right and the donations will come.
One more thing: remember not all content has to be original. Keep an eye out for relevant news stories and videos that you can share to show wider awareness of your cause. One of our most popular posts (shared 483 times on Facebook at the time of writing) is curated content i.e. content that isn’t ours.
3. Make that budget go further
I used to wallow in self-pity when I looked at content published by charities that make ten times more than us. I could never produce anything as good with my modest budget – right?
Pretty quickly, I realised my attitude was all wrong.
It made no sense to compare our infant charity to charities that are 70 years older than us. Having a small budget doesn’t mean I can’t create great content too – not when I have technology at my disposal.
There are lots of handy apps you can use to create reports, graphics, and visual content for free. Yes: free!
There’s Canva for graphic design; Lumen5 (a tool that turns your blog posts into videos – I made the video below with it!); and every strapped-for-budget social media manager’s dream: InShot – a photo and video editing app for your phone.
It’s all about being resourceful.
4. Mobilise your community
The local community is crucial to the success of any growing charity. Charity Right is proudly Bradfordian, and we do a good job of making it feel like the community’s charity.
Instead of wishing you could steal the country’s affection with a heart-wrenching John Lewis-style ad, work on winning the heart of your local community. You’d be surprised how far these ripples can spread.
At Charity Right, we have a key group of people that we depend on to help us with events and (regular) fundraising. They’ve bought into our mission, and they’re just as invested in our cause as we are. They’re more than volunteers; they help make up the very fabric of the organisation.
We also rely on the support of local families, schools, and businesses. Our Meal for a Meal campaign saw local restaurants donate a percentage of their profit to feeding schoolchildren from our food programmes. For a long time, we had someone dedicated to creating and maintaining local relationships solely in Bradford.
For growing charities: charity really does start at home.
If you have any ideas about what charities need to do to keep growing, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment below!
This post was originally published on the JustGiving blog.
Eman Ismail is a UK-based copywriter and the founder of InkHouse. She works with businesses and non-profits across the world, writing marketing materials and content that increases their exposure and attracts their ideal audience.
When she’s not writing or delivering copywriting workshops, you’ll find her glued to a podcast in the corner of a cosy cafe.