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Posted by Sarah Brown on 30 Apr '21

10 reasons why every charity or social enterprise needs a marketing strategy

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In some ways, charities and social enterprises are ahead of the game in marketing when they set up. They have thought about their purpose and the impact they want to have, how they want to change the world. If you apply to be a charity, you have to define two of the Four Ps of marketing:

Product - what you will be offering in terms of activities
Place - in marketing, this means will you be dealing direct or selling to a shop, for example; as a charity, you need to be clear if you will be working with others to achieve your goals or going directly to your end-user

Ironically, the third P Promotion, which isn't automatically addressed when a charity or social enterprise sets up, is what most people think is the only thing marketing is about. The fourth P is Price which may not seem relevant to charities; it clearly is to social enterprises. However, even giving services free is deciding about price, and this decision needs to be thought through. 

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I also like to add another P when I consider marketing as it is so crucial, People:

People - who you will be working with, who you will be helping

Charities and social enterprises also tend to be more explicit about this than many businesses when they start.

Marketing Strategy - how you will achieve the journey

So most charities or social enterprises know some of the fundamental principles and goals. A marketing strategy will provide the plan, the road map to more extraordinary results - the route to achieve your vision. 

Here are ten reasons why a marketing strategy is so important to charities and social enterprises

1. Best use of scarce resources

A marketing strategy helps an organisation concentrate its scarce resources on the best possible opportunities to increase its impact and generate more income/donations. This includes where to spend money on promotion.

2. Address all your audiences

Charities have a particularly complex set of audiences that they need to consider. Not only your users/customers but also volunteers, donors and funders, councils, and others buying services for your end-users. A marketing strategy will include your offer to each audience and how you communicate with each in terms of messages and media such as Facebook. Without one, you could end up wasting a lot of money and time.

3. Promote your niche

Developing your marketing strategy will help you identify where you can have the most impact, your niche, and how to address this niche. 

4. Explain your theory of change

Your marketing strategy will translate your theory of change into powerful messages. 

5. Focus

A marketing strategy provides an organisation with an edge over its competitors because of the focus and clarity it gives you.

6. Strong brand

A critical part of any marketing strategy is developing a solid brand and consistent messages. This will help you achieve your purpose because it will attract users/customers, funder, volunteers and donations. It saves lots of time and money when your audiences know what you stand for and why you are so great. 

7. Manage opportunities and risks

In creating a marketing strategy, you will identify where you sit in the market. You will compare yourself with other providers, consider the markets you work in, who are your competitors for funding or customers/users, and who might be potential collaborators. This will help you identify future opportunities and threats. The strategy can contain ways to address opportunities and mitigate any risks.

8. Identify new services

Examining the market will identify gaps in provision, more people you could help, and opportunities for new services/products. It will ensure that you keep updating what you offer so you continue to meet the needs of your users/customers. It will also provide interesting new projects for funding bids.

9. Wise investments

A marketing strategy helps an organisation track what is working and how to improve. It helps charity trustees meet their legal requirement to ensure charities spend their money wisely. 

10. Achieve more

In summary, a marketing strategy clearly explains how you as an organisation will reach your objectives. It translates your vision, mission, and goals into effective marketing initiatives that can be measured. A great marketing strategy will help your charity or social enterprise reach more people and generate more income. 

If you enjoyed this, these pick up some of the themes covered:

Be really clear about what you offer

Why charities should value marketing

5 reasons any charity should develop partnerships

Seven issues to consider if you want to earn money as a charity