Looking for your piece of the funding pie?

Posted on 24 Aug 2021

By Caroline Healy, strategic marketing and communications strategist, We Are Savvy

Pressure on not-for-profit organisations comes from all quarters: shifting government’s priorities, increasing demand for services, financial uncertainty within the community.

Healy Caroline We Are Savvy
We Are Savvy's Caroline Healy

But no matter where the pressure is coming from, NFPs need to remain relevant and use marketing and communication activities as opportunities to seek funding, whether through consumer fundraising, corporate support, partnerships, government funding or philanthropy.

The impact of a diminishing profile on the fight for funding

With over 600,000 NFPs operating in Australia, it is not surprising that nearly half (46%) of consumers feel there are either too many NFPs vying for their attention and support, or too many NFPs with similar purposes.

Recent research by We Are Savvy showed that only a few causes stand out as high-profile public concerns. The research was echoed by a media audit that found NFP causes received only a miniscule share of media coverage in the first quarter of the year compared to covid-19 mentions.

For example, where covid-19 was mentioned a mammoth 738,000 times between January and March 2021, the causes close to the heart of not-for-profits received just a fraction of the attention.

Here’s how some of the biggest NFP issues rated by comparison to covid-19 media mentions during that time:

  • homelessness, and disability services 0.1%;
  • domestic violence 0.3%;
  • animal welfare 0.6%;
  • aged care 0.7%;
  • sexual violence 0.7%;
  • mental health 0.9%.

NFPs with diminishing public profiles are likely missing out on public support, including generating everyday conversations, as well as government funding and corporate backing.

Building and maintaining your organisation’s profile with key potential funding partners is a must. We encourage our clients to consider:

  1. Taking a campaign approach to stakeholder engagement so that you can target potential funders – government, philanthropic organisations or potential corporate partners – in an ongoing, engaging and consistent manner.
  2. Reviving your grassroots, and encouraging them to make noise. Engaging your clients, employees and others to support your NFP by raising awareness through social commentary, emails and letters to your key stakeholders can help provide an authentic voice about why your organisation is important and deserves funding.
We Are Savvy's research reveals the kinds of motivations that consumers consider when deciding whether to support your NFP.

How marketing can support the fight for fundraising

Our research shows that only 31% of consumers have donated to a not-for-profit organisation. That means 69% haven’t – an untapped market. Or perhaps a disinterested market, as 35% of consumers say they haven’t been inspired to act at all.

While this presents some fundraising and marketing challenges, what do we know that can help us address these?

  • 38% of consumers choose to support an NFP based on alignment of their own values
  • 58% believe that real-life stories provide cut-through
  • 51% want to know the positive outcomes being delivered.

So, here are four actions you can take to increase the influence of your fundraising and marketing efforts.

Inspire, don’t tell.

Use real stories and follow people on a journey. People love to see how others are living their best lives. It’s inspiring, so it continues to remain a key reason that people choose a NFP. Remember, don’t only bring your client’s stories to life but also your employee’s - this is a great way to build more understanding of the services you deliver.

Show how you live your values.

Connecting with people based on values is key for building ongoing relationships and support. Sharing stories that demonstrate how you live your values – through organisational actions and decisions – will help to make that connection.

Get creative.

The NFP and fundraising market is crowded, so get creative. Keep reinventing your approach and identify ways you can stand out to the consumer so they choose you.

Finally, think about the “when” for consumer fundraising. The traditional tax time and Christmas time are crowded, with the majority of organisations running campaigns at these times, which makes it harder for you to stand out. Consider other times when it’s less likely that consumers are receiving multiple requests from a range of NFPs.

Think differently and break the mould.

Reviewing your marketing and communications from a strategic angle – which goes beyond thinking about the specific tasks that need to be done – will help to ensure you stand out from competitors in a crowded market.

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