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Thoughts from a broad

Charities play an essential role in Australian society, delivering necessary services to our communities and to provide support to those who need assistance, often in places that government funding may not reach.

For many, the causes that they support embody their personal beliefs (or aspirations) or represent essential needs and services the donor believes everyone should have access to. Further, the propagation of information available, thanks to the internet, means that cause-related awareness is at an all-time high.

In Australia, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) reports that Australian charities receive $6.8 billion in donations and bequests. However, with 54,000 registered charities in Australia, the decision of which causes to donate to can often be complex and the need to cut through is essential for the charity or not-for-profit.

Over the past 12 months there have been 109 brands advertised by 91 monitored advertisers in the Australian cause related category. These 91 advertisers accounted for 120 television, 98 print, 8 outdoor and 39 digital campaigns that were captured by one local advertising monitoring service. And I stress the word monitored because the vast majority of charities and not-for-profits in Australia are too reliant on Facebook posts to voice their communication message.

I have observed, over the years, that a large number of charities and not-for-profits have a general lack of understanding around what motivates people to give to a particular type of cause. Many driving marketing, particularly for smaller organisations, are simply clouded by their own reasoning or motivations. Once a charity moves through to needing donors beyond what I call the ‘inner circle of the highly motivated’ it is essential that they do so.

We work with a large number of cause related marketers of varying sizes, experience and categories. Because of our work Chaos Media undertakes a bespoke piece of research in the Charity / NFP sector annually, managed independently by Australian research giant Roy Morgan Research.

Australian Charities

This significant piece of work indicates that two-thirds (61%) of Australians financially donate to an average of 7 charities or not-for-profit (NFP) organisations each year. The research has revealed again this year that Australians must have trust in the organisation and the offer of a long term solution are the primary motives behind donating to one charity over another. This is then followed by personal or more emotional reasons for donating, and these reasons change based on the type of charity (human, environmental, animal or emergency services) including whether they are local or international and even among organisations within the same category.

In Australia, it is no coincidence the top five charities who people say they donate to, or trust the most, fall within the top Australian monitored mainstream advertisers in the category. This means they are using mainstream media to connect with their potential supporters or donors.

Top 5 Australian Charities

Understanding why people don’t give is as equally important and our research continuously shows

the dominant reason people don’t give is they simply cannot afford to. This is then closely followed by a lack of awareness; people say they weren’t asked, they are unaware of the charity and its cause, or they just don’t know enough to trust the organisation will do with their money what they say they will do. These organisations tend to have limited or no monitored mainstream advertising in the category.

This leads me to the thoughts I'd like to share

Too many charities are reliant on social media to solely carry the load of their communications and it isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a powerful tool if used as part of the charity’s communication armory.

Media most influential for donations

To cut through the competitive clutter more attention needs to be paid to raising awareness of the charity and its cause using a combination of editorial coverage and paid mainstream advertising because television, physical newspapers and digital display / search advertising consistently rank as having high levels of donor influence as does reading or viewing or listening to news coverage within television, radio, newspapers and digital environments. These methods educate the market, raise awareness and build trust because the mediums are viewed as 'credible'. This means that the charity gains credibility and builds trust over time if they leverage them well.

Likewise, the message needs to be clear ... this is the cause we represent, this is what we intend to do to support / help the cause and this is what we need to put our intentions into place. Too many advertisers in this category confuse a brand ad or a 'cause' ad with an ‘ask’ and, therefore, the success of their campaigns are limited.

Charities also forget to thank their supporters. I am looking forward to the day that a Christmas charity campaign in mainstream media says thank you to their donors for their support ... here is how you helped us this year and this is what we want to achieve in the coming year with your support.

Call me old fashioned but in a market where everyone has their hand out it just might work.

some background

This article was first published on LinkedIn on December 23, 2016. Glenda Wynyard can be found at Chaos Media. Chaos Media is an independent Australian media agency that uses insight to develop Channel Planning Strategies and improve Media Planning & Buying outcomes on behalf of their clients. If you would like to make contact with either Glenda or Chaos Media you can do so via or phone +612 9555 7776.

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